SP’s Aviation|April 2020
MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT of the COVID-19 situation and how it is going to impact the growth of the Indian economy and the job situation in the coming times. One thing is for sure; no one is going to escape the impact of this pandemic! The aviation, hospitality, and the travel/tourism industries are going to be the most severely affected and will take the longest time to get back on their feet, as per most experts. These sectors are staring at phenomenal job losses, with large scale distress all around. However, as with every adverse situation, there will be opportunities and new ways of doing business, which need to be considered. There will be a new definition of how things were done earlier and how they will be done in the future. A sort of “Before COVID-19” (BC) and “After Disease” (AD).
I will limit this article to the Business Aviation (BA) industry, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on this sector, and how we need to reorient ourselves to survive. I will also cover a section on the initiatives that need to be taken by the government to ease the pain and help the industry to survive.
BUSINESS AVIATION INDUSTRY: AN OVERVIEW
The term Business Aviation (BA) is unique, and not found in the ICAO terminology. However, it is used by the NBAA and other industry bodies. NBAA defines Business Aviation (BA) as “The use of any general aviation aircraft for a business purpose”. The Federal Aviation Administration defines general aviation as all flights that are not conducted by the military or the scheduled airlines. As such, business aviation is a part of general aviation that focuses on the business use of airplanes and helicopters.
In India, BA consists of the following:
• All aircraft and helicopters being used by air charter companies operating under Non-Scheduled Operator’s Permit (NSOP).
• All aircraft and helicopters being used by business houses for the transportation of their own management and employees, in the private category.
• Smaller aircraft being used by individuals who are ownerpilots. These are extremely limited in number, hence not discussed here any further.
EFFECT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN THE AD ERA
The Charter (NSOP) Companies
There are approximately 130 companies operating under this segment, which is also called NSOP (Non-Scheduled Operator’s Permit), and these have a total of about 350 aircraft and helicopters operating in this category. The figures are approximate and a slight variation is not relevant here. The aircraft fleet consists of large, medium and small business jets as also single-engine and twin-engine helicopters. All of these are used for charter operations on a day-to-day basis, for international and domestic air charters. Some of these companies are subsidiaries of large corporates and their use is captive for the charter of their own group companies. Some NSOP operators are pure helicopter companies, which are used for religious pilgrimage or oil and gas exploration.
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