Chopper Hiring Charges Rise As Fuel Prices Hike

Due to the high cost of jet fuel and the National Treasury’s implementation of a 14 percent value-added tax (VAT) on the hiring of helicopters, companies in Kenya that rent out private jets have raised their prices over the last three months.

The price of jet fuel has increased to a high of Sh136 per litre from Sh100 in January, forcing private companies that rent out helicopters to raise their leasing costs even as Kenyan demand for air travel begins to pick up after a slow start in January.

“Private aviation firms are adjusting the cost at which we are leasing out helicopters simply because jet fuel prices have gone up. There is also the introduction of taxes that were previously waived or exempted for the aviation sector,” Kenya Association of Air Operators (KAAO) executive secretary Eutychus Waithaka told the Business Daily.

Five-seater helicopter rentals from Tropic Air now cost $2,800 (Sh332,248) per hour, up from $2,500 (Sh296,650) three months ago. This represents a 12% increase.

In addition, the private charter company with headquarters in Nanyuki now charges $6,000 (709,800) per hour for a six-seater helicopter, a 130 percent increase from the $2,600 (Sh307,658) it did in April.

Contrarily, Bella Aviation, a private aviation company that specializes in renting out private aircraft, charges $2,100 (Sh248,745) per hour for a five-seater helicopter, a 17 percent increase from the $1,800 (Sh213,210) it was charging three months prior.

The company, which is based at Wilson Airport and serves markets in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, claims that the increase in price—which is exclusive of VAT—is due to the increased movement of politicians throughout the nation in advance of the general election on August 9th.

Five-seater helicopters are currently being rented out primarily to politicians, according to Nairobi-based charter agent Aerosim Private Air, up from $1,600 (Sh189,856) per hour in April. This represents a 19% increase.

The current price of $1,900 (Sh225,456) that the company is charging is exclusive of the 14 percent VAT, which means that the cost could increase to $2,204 (Sh261,528) per hour.

Excluding those owned by the National Police Service and the Kenya Defence Forces, according to official data, the total number of registered aircraft increased by 47 to 782 last year.

However, 41 of the 47 were helicopters, indicating a rise in demand from politicians who favor them during campaigns due to the simplicity of landing.