New Delhi: Saddled with "unprecedentedly high" operating costs, helicopter operators have asked the government to take urgent steps to rationalise taxes on import of spares and jet fuel, and lower airport charges to enable the heli-sector to grow.
"High cost of operations was the primary cause for the poor growth. High cost of ATF, high customs duty for import of helicopter and spares and application of fixed-wing air traffic rules to helicopters were some of the contributory factors to high operating costs," Col Jayanth K Poovaiah, executive director of Deccan Aviation, said here.
His comments came after a meeting he and chiefs of several helicopter companies had with DGCA chief Arun Mishra late last week.
At the meeting, heli operators told the aviation regulator that high airport charges, coupled with high fuel cost, had made chopper operations very costly. If the problems were not resolved soon, many of them would be forced to shut down.
They sought intervention of the Civil Aviation Ministry to take immediate steps to harmonise fiscal tariffs imposed on them.
Seeking urgent steps to rationalise landing and handling charges at privatised airports, they pointed out that a large number of helipads in the country were maintained by private agencies which charged landing fees ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000, making the cost of helicopter operation unaffordable even for air ambulance.
The CEOs of chopper firms also claimed that the 'single window control system' at the DGCA was causing "inordinate delays in getting clearances relating to safe and efficient helicopter operations" and this was adding to their costs.
Assuring them that the issues raised by them would be given due consideration, the DGCA chief said India had phenomenal potential for usage of helicopters especially for public good.