With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, there is a sudden buzz around aircraft sellers and chartered service firms as poll managers finalise campaign plans for leaders to dart across the country in minimal time.
Aviation industry sources confirmed that there had been a sharp spurt in purchase orders of smaller aircraft like Cessanas, C-90s and helicopters in the last few months.
Unlike yesteryears, the new favourites are second hand small aircraft of five to seven year vintage. Interestingly, the orders this year are not coming from the big business houses who are traditional aircraft buyers in the country but from small and medium entrepreneurs from non-metro cities.
“There are about six confirmed buyers who are waiting for the right model that suits their needs. We are scouting for the type of aircraft that the customer is looking for,” an aircraft dealer informed.
The aircraft would be primarily sourced from the US and Europe where the economic downturn has forced many corporate owners to dispose of their machines.
According to a Delhi-based aircraft lease rental and purchasing company, an automobile ancillary unit owner at a small town in Punjab has placed an order for a six-seat second hand aircraft.
The promoter of a cement-manufacturing unit in Haryana is “very keen” on buying a helicopter.
Confirmed Ankur Bhatia, managing director of Bird Group, an aircraft management company: “Demand for smaller aircraft has gone up in the last couple of months.”
Also some managers of some top politicians are scouting for aircraft before the campaign gains momentum, a dealer said.
“A majority of these aircraft would be bought by some industrial house, which would then be given to political parties and returned after the elections,” an industry insider said.
The bulk of the orders are coming from Ludhiana, Amrtisar and Dehradun, with prices ranging between Rs 7 and Rs 10 crore.
These aircraft would be equipped with all necessary safety standards and also come with the appropriate permits to run non-schedule services.