BAOA

Im­port­ing for­eign pi­lots to DIAL’s big brother role, sea­planes and more, the third-time chief of the as­so­ci­a­tion gets can­did about avi­a­tion with Ar­pita Kala of SP’s Avi­a­tion

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

BAOA Pres­i­dent Rohit Kapur says it how he sees it

Colonel Nathan R. Jes­sup (Jes­sup): You want an­swers? Daniel Kaf­fee (Kaf­fee): I want the truth! Jes­sup: You can’t han­dle the truth!

Re­mem­ber this heated Jack Ni­chol­son-Tom Cruise ex­change from the movie A Few Good Men (1992)? Well, if you need some cold-hard facts about gen­eral avi­a­tion in your face, meet Rohit Kapur, the Pres­i­dent of Busi­ness Air­craft Operators As­so­ci­a­tion (BAOA). Even fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley couldn’t dodge Kapur’s truth-at­tack in the form of an open let­ter writ­ten in 2015 that be­gan with “One more year for the hype of the Union Bud­get and one more year of dis­ap­point­ment for the Avi­a­tion In­dus­try! So what’s new?”

Fast-for­ward three years and things are more or less the same. He says, “There is noth­ing to speak about the bud­get as long as we are con­cerned, hon­estly. They are not treat­ing us (busi­ness avi­a­tion sec­tor) in any way, not moth­erly, not step­moth­erly, not fa­therly...I mean there wasn’t even a men­tion about us in the bud­get. So, it doesn’t mat­ter. It’s dis­ap­point­ing, but then this bud­get is fo­cused on a dif­fer­ent seg­ment of the so­ci­ety, so we aren’t sur­prised.”

SP’s Avi­a­tion (SP’s): Has your open let­ter to Arun Jait­ley in 2015 brought any changes?

Kapur: That open let­ter to Mr Jait­ley was some­thing that came to my mind one fine day. I was think­ing ‘How do I approach him... can I go meet him? He’ll prob­a­bly not give me an ap­point­ment’ and then I wrote the open let­ter, I am given to un­der­stand that he did read it.

We un­der­stand that govern­ment poli­cies don’t change overnight, it takes time. So, our job is to raise aware­ness for the govern­ment and tell them what our peeve points are. Min­istry of Fi­nance (MoF) has their in­ter­nal com­pul­sions. So, even if they hear and un­der­stand us, it’s not ev­ery time that they can act on it. Af­ter all, we are con­sid­ered the body that rep­re­sents the is­sues of the ul­tra-high net-worth peo­ple, who use and own planes. There is a mind­set that these are the peo­ple who can be taxed and you can take more money from them.

Our own re­quire­ments also change over time. To­day ATF (avi­a­tion tur­bine fuel) is not a big pain-point, I think now we would like the min­istry to ad­dress the in­fra­struc­ture. All air­ports are full to ca­pac­ity, they have over­shot what they were de­signed for and the col­lat­eral da­m­age of this has been gen­eral avi­a­tion. The air­lines get first pri­or­ity in terms of park­ing slots, land­ing etc and we get rel­e­gated in the back­ground be­cause we’re not con­sid­ered a pub­lic service.

SP’s: What about the in­fra­struc­ture plans for the RCS schemes?

Kapur: RCS is a great ini­tia­tive, don’t get me wrong, but it’s meant for a par­tic­u­lar seg­ment and the govern­ment is cater­ing to them. Busi­ness or cor­po­rate avi­a­tion is not about the hawai chap­pal peo­ple with all due re­spect, be­cause they are not the peo­ple who travel in our air­craft. Our jets are used by busi­ness lead­ers, politi­cians and even for re­li­gious tourism, air am­bu­lance, so it’s not re­ally the need of a com­mon man. RCS will do well but whether it will trickle down to grow our in­dus­try vis-à-vis in­fra­struc­ture re­mains a big ques­tion mark. I am not so op­ti­mistic be­cause it is not set up for the kind of au­di­ence we cater to.

SP’s: So, the posh tag as­so­ci­ated with BA is not a stigma?

Kapur: It is an ab­so­lute stigma and we are try­ing for years to get the per­cep­tion of the govern­ment right.

SP’s: But you did say that BA caters to a lux­u­ri­ous clien­tele...

Kapur: Lux­u­ri­ous clien­tele is a word that can be used loosely. We would like to say that busi­ness avi­a­tion is a tool for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, used by busi­ness lead­ers of the coun­try. These peo­ple travel to the in­te­ri­ors of the coun­try to their fac­to­ries, plants that are not eas­ily con­nected by com­mer­cial air or train or road. For­get the do­mes­ti­cally, a lot of In­dian com­pa­nies have gone global and they have to travel to these places where they have projects go­ing which aren’t eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. So, BA is ac­tu­ally an en­hancer to give flex­i­bil­ity to our busi­ness lead­ers in terms of their time man­age­ment and you know, time is money. And, if they man­age their time bet­ter, they will add to the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the coun­try. This is how we want the govern­ment to look at BA.

SP’s: Tell us about the is­sues that BAOA has been suc­cess­ful in re­solv­ing since its in­cep­tion?

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