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|Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:41 am Post subject: Viiking Ventures News -- Part 1
Viiking Ventures applies for operator permit, eyes RCS
December 8, 2016
Viiking Ventures, a company with interests across consumer products, hospitality, entertainment, realty and infrastructure industries, has applied for a non-scheduled operator permit (NSOP).
The firm is also considering to be a part of the government’s recently unveiled regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
This comes at a time when the government’s RCS initiative to connect remote parts of the country through air routes has found few takers among big airline operators—SpiceJet and Air India being the exceptions. The scheme, though, seems to have piqued the interest of smaller operators including new entrants.
“One thing is for certain, there is a need for regional connectivity in the aviation business. It is a welcome step that the government is waiving airport landing and parking charges. Couple of months back, we applied for NSOP. We are also surveying if being a part of RCS will be financially viable for us,” said captain Ashwani Bhakoo, director and chief operating officer of Viiking Aviation Pvt. Ltd, part of Viiking Ventures.
“The government has said it will help operators with viability gap funding (VGF). But, we will have to see the tune of VGF. The internal consultations are expected to be over in the next two months, following which we will approach the aviation ministry for talks,” he added.
A sum of Rs.500 crore has been earmarked for RCS in the current financial year. The maximum VGF, which will fund the gap between an airline’s operations and expected revenues on RCS routes, will be limited to nine seats for a 12-seater aircraft and maximum of 40-seats for larger aircraft.
While the company waits for its NSOP to be processed, it is conducting parallel exercise to acquire aircraft. It is looking at models such as Beechcraft 1900—a 19-passenger, pressurised twin-engine turboprop fixed-wing aircraft—and the Cessna 208 Caravan, an American single-engine turboprop, fixed-tricycle landing gear, short-haul regional aircraft.
The routes the company is eyeing connect north and northwest India. “We are looking at connecting places such as Kota, Bikaner, Jaisalmer to cities such as Delhi, or even to one another,” said Bhakoo.
Under RCS, unserved and underserved airports would be connected at airfares capped at Rs.2,500 for half of the seats in flights travelling a distance of 476-500km, a journey covered under one hour.
Commenting on the development, Mark Martin of aviation consultancy firm Martin Consultancy said, “It seems that the capping of Rs.2,500 was done keeping in mind the ATR-72 aircraft, which ironically is not the best option for short-distance flights. Flight operators are not in it for charity. It has to be viable for them. A better way of attracting operators would have been waiving of taxes, and a 50% subsidy in fuel.”