Monday, March 05, 2012

Business aviation flying high

While some commercial airlines such as Kingfisher are struggling to stem their financial hemorrhage, the country's business aviation market, involving charter of private jets or helicopters by corporate houses, is flying high.

Charter business

This sector, with some 130 operators, a fleet size of 142 jets and a market size of about $250 million, has lined up fresh investments to increase fleet, even as the operators are coming out with new business models and offerings.

Corporate honchos are opting to charter business jets owing to time flexibility and grounding of flights by some commercial airlines.

The private jets in the country accounts for 12 per cent of the global market and is bigger than the Chinese and Japan markets. Together with helicopters, turboprops and piston engines, the fleet of business aviation is estimated at 680.

Fleet expansion

The Business Aviation Association of India has projected the fleet to bloat up to 2,000 by 2020, while PwC estimates that 300 business jets, 300 smaller aircraft and 250 helicopters will be added by 2017.

Bombardier forecasts 1,330 deliveries by 2020, while Brazilian aircraft maker, Embraer, pegs the market at $9 billion by that year, translating into 360 additional jets.

Other manufacturers such as Hawker Beechcraft, Dornier Seaplanes and Pacific Aerospace are also eying India.

Embraer has on order 18 phenom 4-seaters and five 8-seaters, including 12 to Mumbai-based Invision Air.

“We have two aircraft at present and plan to induct 12 more, including six 8-seaters, at the rate of one every three months. We plan six bases across the country,” Mr Vinit Phatak, Invision Managing Director, told Business Line.

New packages

Operators are also coming out with new packages to attract clients. For instance, Invision has introduced a pre-paid package. “Our spot charter prices are Rs 1.50 lakh for the 4-seaters and Rs 2.50 lakh for 8-seaters,” Mr Phatak said.

Operators are also offering corporates to buy a share in a fractional membership scheme.

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