On the occasion of World Tourism Day on 27th September, air taxi service operation in the state of Madhya Pradesh will be re-launched. A MoU was signed between the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism and Supreme Transport, the aviation company in April 2015 to re-launch the air taxi services in the state. The previous contract holder was Air Ventura.
What is air taxi?
A small aircraft that provides short to-and-fro movements within the same city or shorter distances on demand is known as air taxi. It is basically a flight charter service between small airports.
First Air Taxi in India
The concept of air taxi is not new in foreign countries though it is a fairly new concept in India. The air taxi service in India started first in 2011 in Madhya Pradesh but was closed down in 2014. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan inaugurated India’s first air taxi service at Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, on September 7, 2011. The main objective was to promote tourism in Madhya Pradesh. However, due to some reasons, the air taxi service was closed down last year.
Re-launch of Air Taxi
It was announced by the Supreme Transport Aviation President that Madhya Pradesh would once again resume its air taxi services connecting 11 cities of the state, apart from Agra, Ahmedabad and Nagpur. The air taxi service will operate 121 flights every week. The aviation sector has entered into a venture for five years with the tourism sector of Madhya Pradesh. The State government’s airports at Satna, Bandhavgarh and Kanha would allow free access. At present, there are two Cessna Grand Caravans for the flights operations but will soon add up to four Caravans. There are plans to expand the network to connect Raipur and Surat as well. With the re-launch, the aviation company expects a turnover of Rs. 20 crore. This also includes an annual subsidy from the state government of Rs. 12 crore.
The air taxi is a nine-seater small private aircraft. A baggage of 10 kg will be allowed for each passenger. The ticket rate is expected to vary between Rs 3,500 and Rs 5,000.
Change in Policies
With the re-launch, the state government has also announced some changes in the policies of air taxi services as compared to the previous contract with Air Ventura.
- The state government will not underwrite three out of the nine seats on every flight.
- The government will subsidise part of an hour flying cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 1 crore per month.
- Under the new contract with Supreme Transport, the operator has to connect at least four cities in Madhya Pradesh.
- Some new cities that will be connected as per the new clause are Bhopal, Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior.
- Under the modified contract, the taxi service will also be available in the cities of neighbouring states like Raipur and Jaipur. This will provide inter-state air connectivity too.
- As per the previous contract, about Rs. 6 crore was spent by the government in underwriting three seats on each flight and Rs. 2 crore was also spent additionally in subsidising VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF). As per the new contract, the subsidy could be higher this time. The reason being that the state government could shell out Rs. 1 crore a month.
Benefits of Air Taxi Service
- Same day travel
- Reduction in driving time
- Reduction in time taken for airport check-in and security checks
- Reduction in change of planes/layovers
- Cost-effective as not only the ticket rates are less, the additional expenses of overnight stay, food, car rentals, etc., are also reduced.
- Visiting remote places becomes easy.