India market soars for business jet makers

By Sanjay Singh, IANS,

New Delhi : With the number of billionaires and high net worth individuals in India growing, business jet makers are intensifying efforts to sell their aircraft in India which industry sources say will need over 250 aircraft in the next 10 years.

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“We are very optimistic about India. We have good business here as India is an expanding market,” said Roger Sperry, vice president, sales, of the US-based Gulfstream.

“Earlier most of our sales were in th US, but now at least 60 percent of our sales are outside. We have built new facilities for the production of our latest offerings,” Jerry told IANS.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics. It had a record sale of 250 business jets in 2008 when recession spread worldwide. It is looking to increase its presence in the Asian market.

“Asia is the first to recover from recession. We are meeting with prospective customers,” Jerry had told IANS during the recent Hyderabad Air show.

Another player in the growing segment is Canada-based Bombardier. Its market forecast said that 1,030 deliveries will take place in the next 10 years (2009-18).

And this includes 250 business jets for India and 300 for China.

“India represents tremendous opportunity for business aviation,” Avid Dixon, Bombardier’s regional vice president, sales (Asia Pacific), told IANS.

Bombardier has a 24 percent market share in the region. It displayed Learjet 60 XR, Challenger 850 and Global 5000 business jets at the Hyderabad air show.

An Ernst & Young report had earlier said India forms 12 per cent of the worldwide business jets market, quoting the Brazilian executive jet manufacturer Embraer. The report said the demand for private or business jets in India is expected to grow at 50 per cent on an annual basis over the next few years.

Embraer, which has been showcasing its new mid-size jet, Legacy 500, in the country, is aiming to garner $1 billion by selling executive jets in the next 10 years.

Aviation industry reports say the demand for business jet is expected to go up by 14 percent a year in the next 10 years.

Experts say the main reason for the rise in demand is that a business aircraft is no more seen as a luxury but a tool for increased productivity. Private or business jets allow business leaders to use their time more productively.

And that’s why they say the Tata Group entered the space to start aircraft charter and fractional ownership programmes in the country and picked up a stake in BJETS – a Singapore- and Mumbai-based personal aviation provider in 2008.

According to Gulfstream, India’s present share of business jets fleet is less than one percent – 123 aircraft – of the 18,000 business jets worldwide.

The jet maker currently offers back-up support to its customers through Air Works, a maintenance, repair and overhauling (MRO) company in India.

The company will roll out by 2012 a new business jet, G650, which it says will be the biggest, fastest, longest range purpose-built business jet.

“We have successfully completed its first voyage aloft on Nov 25 last year and it is due to enter service in 2012. G650 can fly 51,000 ft and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles,” said Jerry.

(Sanjay Singh can be contacted at [email protected])