National

Singing the regional connectivity tune

Aesha Datta New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 17, 2016

A file photograph of Anup Jalota

Bhajan king Anup Jalota’s airline has won a tender from the Madhya Pradesh govt

Even as large corporate houses tap into the aspiration-fuelled aviation market, smaller regional players are stepping up their game, helped by the government’s proposed regional connectivity scheme. One such service is Prabhatam Aviation, which under the Divine Network, proposes to connect places such as Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, and Varanasi, among others.

Prabhatam Aviations currently operates chopper services in Jammu and Kashmir and caters to the religious tourism sector. It has services in Vaishnodevi, Kedarnath, Badrinath and other places.

Singer Anup Jalota, who is a Director of Divine and also a member of the ruling BJP, told BusinessLine that the company has received a tender from the Madhya Pradesh State Government for short-distance flights. The services will be provided under the company’s wing Divine Network, he said. “We are starting with two 9-seater aircraft but we will expand to 11 soon.”

At about ₹16 crore for each aircraft, the company will have to spend over ₹ 160 crore to buy these aircraft. The Divine Network is, in fact, expected to further spread its wings soon. The company is eyeing tenders in other states, such as West Bengal. The Centre, in an attempt to boost connectivity in untapped markets, proposed a Regional Connectivity Scheme under which local players, such as Divine, will enjoy reduced taxes on aviation turbine fuel, airport charges and others.

The shortfall will be filled by passengers flying longer distances in the country, as the government has proposed a small levy on them to feed the Regional Connectivity Fund.

With selected operators getting a limited period exclusive route rights, Divine is expected to enjoy significant first-mover advantage, besides the massive subsidies, such as service tax at a tenth of the rate.

Published on November 17, 2016
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