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Private jet market soars in India
by Rohit Vaid
New Delhi (IANS) Feb 21, 2012

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Even as Indian commercial carriers are facing a tough time sustaining operations, aircraft manufacturers feel the demand for private jets in the country is set to soar with economic growth and a rising number of high net-worth individuals.

"Strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth, along with corporate profits and market capitalizations, is driving corporate wealth. These are strong indicators of a strong market for business aircraft in India," said Nilesh Pattanayak, managing director, South Asia, Bombardier Business Aircraft of Canada.

The growth in the business aircraft sector is driven by Indian corporates who utilise the executive jets to help them ferry between cities and remote locations faster on a comfortable mode.

"As Indian companies increasingly compete on the global market, with customers around the world, demand for time-saving tools such as business jets will continue as key executives try to make the most out of their work days," Pattanayak told IANS as the country completed a year of celebrations commemorating 100 years of aviation.

On February 18, 1911, the first commercial flight was operated in India - between Allahabad and Naini in Uttar Pradesh.

"Business jets offer a virtual office in the sky, providing a high technology and safe environment to conduct business, all in a very high level of comfort. They also allow more flexible travel, that is, travel to cities that are under-served by commercial airlines."

Industry players at the Singapore Airshow this week said tycoons in Asia are increasingly drawn to private jets compared to commercial flights not just as a status symbol, but as a practical and economical choice.

The market for luxury jets, analysts said, is also set to grow as the rich and wealth expand beyond the metros into India's heartland.

"India is an extremely important market for Bombardier and we continue to grow our infrastructure in the country to meet current requirements and future demand," said Pattanayak.

Bombardier's interest in India should not come as a surprise. Though small, the niche sector is witnessing a boom, attracting all major aircraft manufacturers like Hawker Beechcraft, Dornier Seaplanes and Pacific Aerospace.

In its latest projections for the Indian market, the Canadian company forecasts 1,330 deliveries of business jets in India by 2030 by all business jet makers.

Said Justin Firestone of consultancy firm Firestone: "The growth opportunity for private jet manufacturers to deliver their products into India is tremendous."

Other industry watchers say the market for smaller four or six-seater jets, accessible to millionaires, not billionaires, is also increasing.

Data by the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), show the private jet fleet in the country is around 155 out of a total of 1,146 aircraft.

"Many Indian customers choose to register their aircraft in other countries, so the actual number of aircraft is higher," said Pattanayak.

Bombardier currently has over 30 business jets based or registered in India.

Turning to commercial civil aviation, Pattanayak said the financially challenged Indian carriers could cut their operational costs by inducting more fuel-efficient aircraft into their fleets.

"Global economic conditions have caused uncertainties in airlines' traffic and revenue projections. And in the days of high fuel costs, customers are looking for change. Moving towards highly fuel-efficient products will help airlines right size their fleets."

High aviation turbine fuel price, which accounts for over 50 percent of an airline's operating cost, has landed major airlines like Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and SpiceJet in huge losses.

Asked if Bombardier would introduce new jets in the commercial aviation sector apart from its Q400 turbo-prop aircraft, Pattanayak said: "Absolutely. With optimized family of aircraft that includes the Q400 NextGen aircraft, Bombardier also produces the CRJ family of aircraft.

"The CS100 and CS300 jetliners are our newest offerings. The CSeries aircraft program is the only optimized 100 percent new platform in the 100 to 149 seat market segment."

Source: Indo-Asia News Service

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