Gujarat shortlists Ventura Aviation, Deccan Charters and Meher Air Service for intra-state aviation service.
Gujarat government has shortlisted three companies to provide offshore and onshore civil and cargo aviation service within the state. These include Ventura Aviation, Deccan Charters and Meher Air Service. The government will now decide on allotment of routes to these companies.
"Earlier, nine companies had expressed interest in the project; six for onshore and three for offshore connectivity. Of these six companies that complied with the technical criteria, three have been finalised to offer service," Saurabh Patel, minister of state for industry, told ET.
Ventura and Deccan are selected for onshore service, while Meher will provide offshore (amphibious sea-planes) service
. The move is expected to boost trade and tourism in Gujarat. It will also provide better connectivity to the visiting NRIs. The state government will handhold these companies for three years by providing tax incentives and viability gap funding.
"Gujarat Airways, Deccan Airlines, Spicejet, Dwarkadheesh and Kingfisher had explored the possibilities of regional connectivity in the 1990s. But they wound up their operations in a few months for want of traffic. Moreover, there were other issues like taxation and regulation. From the past experience, the government insisted this time for 9-19 seater aircraft," Captain Ajay Sharma, director of Civil Aviation in Gujarat told ET.
Madhya Pradesh was the first state to start regional aviation service. However, its model is based on seat-sharing agreement with the government, while the Gujarat model is based on distance. The state Civil Aviation department had conducted a study and found that these operations will be feasible. It is working on a strategy to ensure long term sustainability of the service.
The department has also identified 5 circuits and 11 airstrips across the state for offshore and onshore service. The circuits include Ahmedabad-Surat-Bhavnagar, Bhuj-Rajkot-Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad-Porbandar-Jamnagar, Kandla-Mandvi-Amreli-Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad-Keshod-Diu. The airstrips include Ambaji, Palitana, Ankleshwar, Dwarka, Mandvi (Kutch), Morbi, Rajkot, Parsoli, Rajpipla, Dholavira and Dahej.
All these routes are within 50-190 nautical miles of each other. According to government data, the air cargo traffic grew 19% in fiscal 2011-12 compared to the growth of 10% in shipping and 9% in railways. The state government is also encouraging the private sector to build tourist infrastructure near airports.
These include transport services from airports to nearby cities, golf courses, amusement parks, business centres, duty free shopping complexes of international class, aviation recreation activities, adventure aviation, hang-gliding, micro light aircraft and parachuting. The Gujarat government had floated Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Company Limited (GUJSAIL) to facilitate infrastructure requirement of the airlines.
Most of the future greenfield airport projects within the state will be developed as a joint venture company, which would become a subsidiary of GUJSAIL under Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework. In May last year, the government had slashed the Value Added Tax on ATF from 30% to 4% for non-scheduled flights, bringing parity with VAT on ATF for scheduled flights.
Earlier, Deccan Charters of Deccan Airways fame Captian Gopinath was to start intra-state service but had to shelve the plan as it could not get approval from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the regulatory body for the aviation sector in the country. Now the state government has come out with a bidding process and a policy.