Pawan Hans to fly into AP, TS

Pawan Hans to fly into AP, TS
Highlights

Established three decades ago in 1985 as Helicopter Corporation of India Ltd (HCIL), Pawan Hans Limited has pioneered the concept of helicopter services in the country. 

The public sector operator of helicopter services is looking to connect district headquarters with big airports in Telugu states

Established three decades ago in 1985 as Helicopter Corporation of India Ltd (HCIL), Pawan Hans Limited has pioneered the concept of helicopter services in the country.

The public sector undertaking (PSU) has a fleet of over 44 helicopters under its wings now, providing services through 21 bases across 17 states, majority of them being in North East part of India.

It is now planning to diversify into small fixed-wing aircraft and sea planes, besides expanding its existing fleet to 100 helicopters by 2025 with an outlay of up to Rs 5,000 crore. It also plans to launch its services in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

“Both the states offer huge scope for regional air connectivity between district headquarters and big airports in the respective states. We had discussions with delegations of AP and Telangana. We will meet the officials again in April to discuss in detail. We are confident that we will start our operations in the two states in 2016,” Dr B P Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director, Pawan Hans Limited, tells The Hans India at the India Aviation 2016 show in Hyderabad.

Do you have any plans to extend your services to AP and Telangana?
Pawan Hans Limited is a central government PSU. We are presently doing helicopter flying. We plan to diversify into small fixed-wing aircraft and sea plan services. The new Civil Aviation Policy of the central government, which is to be launched soon, will aggressively promote regional connectivity. On Thursday, I had a chance to meet delegations of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments. Both are new states now and there is a huge scope for regional connectivity in the both as they need to connect the district headquarters with the state capitals and other cities. This can only be done with small fixed wing aircrafts and helicopters. We also had discussions with the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh. We are in touch with Civil Aviation department of Telangana. We will work on providing regional connectivity in the two states and come out with proposals.

What kind of proposals you intend to come out with?
We will propose to connect the district headquarters with big airports with combination services of small fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. For example if we want to connect Hyderabad with small cities or district headquarters, we can develop small airports for small fixed-wing aircraft wherever a land piece of 600 metres is available. We can develop heli-port if the space is less, and connect such destinations with helicopters. Both the governments responded enthusiastically to our proposals. Chief Ministers of both the states are forward looking individuals. So, we are definitely going to join hands with the two states for providing regional connectivity.

Do you have any specific routes in mind?
We have to sit with district and state administrations to finalis such details. We will do that in April this year. During the meeting, we will be able to understand their requirements and then we will plan how to go about it. We will also discuss about the investments required for starting our operations here.

Are you presently offering any services in two Telugu states?
In fact, we don’t have any regular service in the two states as of now. But we did a small experiment in Rajamundry during Godavari puskaralu. We had flown our helicopters for 10 days from Rajamundry as there was heavy rush. People were very happy with our services as we charged just Rs 2,000. That was a pilot project. Over 3,000 people used our services during those 10 days. Now, we feel that there is lot of scope for our services here. Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju who also hails from AP narrated an incident in which a man came to him and said that he was very happy with the helicopter service. He also told that Minister that he till then thought helicopter was only for VIPs, not for common man like him. We are confident that will start our operations in the two states in 2016.

How is the helicopter sector in India?
Unfortunately, this sector has not grown much in the country. As on today, India hardly has one per cent of world’s helicopter strength. For this country with 1.2 billion people and high growth economy, helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft is the only way forward to provide regional air connectivity. We can’t construct big airport everywhere as it requires huge tracts of land and lots of investments. We can create heli-ports and helipads in district headquarters and small towns. They require just five acre land and an investment of around Rs 50 crore. That way, we can increase regional connectivity.

Are planning to enter into helicopter ambulance services?
This is one area which is not available in the country. Globally, 15 to 20 per cent of the helicopters are used for medical emergencies. But the concept is catching up in India these days. There are many companies which are looking to tap this opportunity. We are also planning to enter into this segment. We need to acquire helicopters and aircraft for this purpose.

Pawan Hans is planning to take its helicopter fleet size to 100 from over 40 now. How much investment does that require?
We will have to invest anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 crore for that kind of expansion. We will do that by the year 2025. We have established business to raise funds for the expansion. We are also planning IPO (initial public offering) in 2017 to meet our growth requirements. Presently, we are in 17 states and have 21 bases around the country.

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