Corporate private jets at Mumbai's airport. Image courtesy: BCCL
Shuffling between cities and visiting remote locations has become easier for corporate India that has turned towards executive jets to ferry them whenever and wherever they want.
"India has realised a 46 per cent increase in registered private jets in the past 36 months," said Justin Firestone of aviation consultancy firm Firestone, which recently came out with a bi-annual report on Indian aviation.
Though small in number, the niche is witnessing a boom, thereby attracting all major aircraft manufacturers to India. "The growth opportunity for private jet manufacturers to deliver their products into India is tremendous," Firestone said.
The report says that India currently has a total of 136 private jets made by global aircraft manufacturers like Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna, Bombardier and Gulfstream.
The spurt in demand of these technologically advanced and luxurious aircraft is the realisation of an unmet demand and current travel needs of the industry, said Amber Dubey, director for aerospace and defence with global consultancy KPMG. "With the demand for business travel on the rise, corporate sector and high-net individuals have started to realise the benefits of owning an executive jet. It saves time and gives hassle-free travel," Dubey added.
He further foresees the demand for the executive jet sector to be on the higher side in the coming three-to-four years.
Currently, private jets' range varies from around $4 million to $58 million.
The owners' club includes like DLF's KP Singh, Raymond's Gautam Singhania, Reliance Group's Mukesh Ambani and GMR group's GM Rao. According to the official data by the aviation regulator of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the private jet fleet in the country is around 135 out of a total of 1,146 aircraft.
"Yes, we do receive many applications from different sectors and companies who want to obtain permission to import these aircraft," said a high ranking DGCA official.
"Many corporate houses have registered their own - non-scheduled operator company - with the agency. Once the registration process is completed the company operates the aircraft as per its organisation's requirements."
But the high growth rate in acquisition of the niche aircraft type may be damped with a recently-imposed import duty of 2.5 percent on the aircraft.
Dubey feels that the need and demand for these aircraft would remain high even if the cost of acquiring the aircraft becomes a bit costly.
"It will just get a little costlier to have the aircraft, but the advantages that it provides are tremendous," Dubey said.
Trends within the niche sector suggest that the Indian customer is now more attracted to technologically-advanced jet-powered executive aircraft rather than the propeller-driven ones.
"The interesting fact which has come out is the demand shift in executive jets, from propeller driven aircraft to more technologically advanced jets which are faster and provide more comfort," said Ashok Pratap Rai, chief executive of leading charter aircraft service provider Club One Air.
Another boost for the growing segment could come from Delhi International Airport Ltd. The company is expected to take a decision soon on an integrated domestic-cum-international terminal complex for LCC and private jets.
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