The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group plans to develop Baramati, about 100 km from Pune, as a hub for private jets, with airports in Mumbai and Pune facing acute shortage of parking bays. Baramati is also the home town of Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
Reliance Airport Developers, an Anil Ambani group company, had won a bid two years ago to run five airports, including Baramati, in Maharashtra on a 95-year lease. The other four were Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad and Yavatmal airports. Barring Nanded, which has daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi, none of the other airports has a regular traffic. Although the state government has lowered sales tax on aviation turbine fuel in places other than Mumbai and Pune, regional aviation has not picked up. Baramati does not get the advantage of lower sales tax.
With airlines not launching any new service, Reliance is wooing non-scheduled permit holders and private jet owners to shift their bases to Baramati. “We have two aprons which can safely accommodate 15 to 20 private jets. We also have plans to construct hangars at the airport,’’ a Reliance executive said.
The Mumbai International Airport Ltd has approved parking for 29 planes, but twice the number are parked. It has sought the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority’s approval to penalise planes which do not have approved parking.
Before Reliance, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation was running the five airports. Each of these airports has about 10 acres of land that Reliance pans to develop for commercial purposes like hotels and business centres. It has also plans to start flying schools. “These developments cannot take place overnight. These proposals are a part of our overall master plan. There is hardly any traffic now,’’ the executive said.
Carver Aviation, which runs a pilot training school, has a hangar in Baramati and allows third parties to use it. “Abu Dhabi has developed Al Bateen airport for private jets. It’s quite popular among jet owners who do not get parking facilities at Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Baramati, too, has the potential for development since it is close to Mumbai and Pune,’’ an aviation source said.
Companies and aircraft owners are reluctant to move out of Mumbai because of flying cost.
Also, most of their businesses are in Mumbai. “The flying time is an average 25-30 minutes, but what worries operators is the congestion at the Mumbai airport,’’ the aviation source said.