“If the reduction of IGST is accepted and implemented, we foresee increase in the number of aircraft in the non-commercial category”

“BAOA has been asking for IGST for import under non-commercial category to be rationalised to 12 per cent from the existing 28 per cent slab”. Speaking exclusively to BizAvIndia in his First and Exclusive interview, Ajay Shah, BAOA’s new President shares his insights about the industry and how BAOA can contribute to the continued growth of the GA/BA industry in India

Issue: BizAvIndia 4/2022 Photo(s): By BAOA, Embraer
Ajay Shah, BAOA’s new President

BizAvIndia (BAI): What would be your top three goals as the BAOA President?

Ajay Shah (Shah): BAOA is more than a decade old organisation now and since inception its functioning and ethos is based on democratic and transparent values. The goals of BAOA are driven by the requirements of the GA/BA industry. Our three top priorities are:

  • Keeping the interests of operators, members & GA/BA industry in the forefront of everything we do as an association;
  • Collaborate with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Regulators to find optimum solutions to the issues faced by the industry;
  • Create a better understanding amongst all the members for issues affecting the industry as a whole.

BAI: What kind of support does the industry require from the Government at this stage?

Shah: We are all aware that the Government is taking numerous proactive steps to address the needs of the aviation industry. A number of ‘Advisory Groups’ have been formed by the Ministry to this effect. It is our opinion that there is a need for these advisory groups to function in a coordinated manner through collaborative mechanism involving the regulators via ‘Joint Working Groups’. This will help accelerate decision making and issue of executive directions by the Ministry.

BAI: How can we balance the unreasonable charges that sections of the industry have to bear with, whether it’s the import duties, the ground handling charges, the parking charges, etc?

Shah: The Ministry has recently issued orders on itemised Ground Handling (GH) charges for small aircraft of less than nine seating capacity. We are confident that after taking care of some initial teething problems during its implementation, the GH charges for GA/BA industry would soon become rationale and proportionate to actual GH services needed by small aircraft. The Ministry is also aware of the unreasonable import duty of 28 per cent on aircraft in non-commercial category and we hope that the same will be discussed by Ministry of Civil Aviation with Ministry of Finance for rationalisation in the very near future. In the case of the penal parking charges at MIAL, we have a pending appeal in the Supreme Court.


BAI: BAOA was advocating streamlining of IGST on imports under private category, could you share more on the same?

Shah: Yes, BAOA has been asking for IGST for import under non-commercial category to be rationalised to 12 per cent from the existing 28 per cent slab. We are very hopeful of a decision on this issue soon. You are aware that the total number of aircraft in GA/BA/NSOP category has shown a 11-13 per cent downward trend during the last five years. In the non-commercial category there has been very minimal and insignificant import of aircraft during the last few years. If the reduction of IGST is accepted and implemented, we foresee increase in the number of aircraft in the non-commercial category which will result in greater revenue for the government.

BAI: Your thoughts on fractional ownership and why is the government pushing it? What implementations can we see and when?

Shah: Guidelines for ‘Fractional Ownership’ were issued by MoCA on October 10 this year during the 4th Helicopter Summit at Srinagar, J&K. We foresee fractional ownership as a game-changer for the aviation industry as this will democratise as well as popularise the owning and use of aircraft in the country. We expect to see lot of movement on this front in the coming months.

BAOA President sees induction of eVTOL aircraft in India to support urban air mobility in the next few years. With a fleet of 200 air taxis, EVE air taxis are expected to fly commercialy in 2026, cov ering al major airports and city centers in India.

BAI: In India, there is also a need for more FBOs, your thoughts on this and how soon can we expect action on this? What are your views for the FBOs which are currently available in the country? What other infrastructure needs serious attention for the BA/GA industry?

Shah: World over, especially in the developed nations, FBOs are catering to the special needs of small business aircraft, both in the commercial and non-commercial category resulting in smooth & efficient operations, customised multiple services as per requirement as well as peace of mind to both the operator as well as the customers. FBO concept is yet to catch up in India. We do have GA Terminals at Delhi and Mumbai but these cannot be categorised and compared with the FBOs available in the developed nations. Going forward, we would like to work with MoCA to develop FBOs around all the major airports of India to be future ready for the needs of an economically developed India.

BAI: Has there been any mindset shift in people’s acceptance towards the BA/GA industry in India?

Shah: Yes, we are slowly moving in that direction. Change of mindset takes longer than most of us expect. Issue of the first National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP-2016) by the Government has been a big step forward in this direction which laid emphasis on regional/remote connectivity at affordable costs. Since then, we have seen a lot of change in how operations of small business aircraft are perceived by the government and regulators. The Udaan scheme has gained traction with numerous routes now becoming operational and slowly but steadily becoming popular. The recent push by the Ministry for ‘last mile connectivity’, through small aircraft and helicopters will play a vital role in development as well as the economic growth of our nation.

BAI: What are some future looking technologies/trends that you are excited about?

Shah: We expect aircraft operating on hybrid power getting into GA/BA industry in the next five to 10 years. Ultra-long range business aircraft are already in demand due to ever increasing global business interests of Indian multinational companies. Helicopters and small aircraft are going to play a vital role in HEMS, Air Ambulance and many specialised ‘aerial work’ applications in India. With liberalised policies and incentives, we are also looking at the drone revolution in the country during the next decade. We also see induction of eVTOL aircraft in India to support urban air mobility in the next few years.

BAI: IBAC is aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050. What are the steps through which BAOA aims to contribute towards this objective?

Shah: We are regularly interacting with IBAC on this issue. Since aviation is yet to develop to its full potential in India, as a national policy, we are aiming for net-zero emission by 2060. We are regularly coordinating with India’s representative at ICAO on this issue.


BAI: What is the trajectory you hope for BAOA in the future to make Indian BA/GA industry’s presence stronger at the global level?

Shah: BAOA is already playing an active role in all the activities of IBAC, which is the umbrella body representing GA/BA associations around the globe. Managing Director, BAOA is a member of the ‘Policy & Operations Committee’ of the IBAC that takes up all the matters concerning GA/BA industry at ICAO through its permanent office at Montreal. We organise annual event ‘BizAvIndia’ Conference, wherein experts from around the globe participate and share their views on issues concerning GA/BA industry. We do have future plans to hold biennial GA/BA aircraft exhibition at Delhi/Bengaluru/Mumbai.