The state government is poised to lease an aircraft to ferry VVIPs, primarily the chief minister, around the state in fair weather or foul.
Cost to the taxpayer: Rs 14 cr per year.
The government feels constrained by the logistics of transporting VVIPs to remote places at short notice. The flight timings of commercial airlines do not always match the tour schedule of VVIPs, and chartered aircraft are often not available at short notice besides being expensive.
So, the government thinks that the lease of a fixed-wing aircraft with a seating capacity of up to six and the capability to fly four hours without refuelling would be useful.
Though the aircraft is to be kept available to all VVIPs, it will mostly be used by the chief minister for his frequent district visits.
According to reliable sources, the decision has been all but finalised.
If it does bite the bait, Andhra Pradesh will join states like Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattishgarh which have their own fixed-wing aircraft to transport VVIPs.
Buying an aircraft would cost Rs 100 cr, and its maintenance Rs 13.98 cr per year. Plus, as per new guidelines issued by the Directorate- General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), it would be mandatory to employ two pilots, an operations manager, a safety manager, a flight dispatcher and a cabin attendant.
Since the maintenance and salaries would add up to quite a sum, the government thinks a wet lease of an aircraft, costing Rs 14 crore per year, would be wiser.
Andhra Pradesh’s trysts with aviation have not been propitious or profitable.
A Bell helicopter chartered by it crashed in bad weather in Kurnool district in 2009, killing the then chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy died in a chopper crash due to inclement weather.