INDIA. The civil aviation industry in India might be under financial stress, but this is not the case for business aviation industry, which is expected to grow three fold in the next decade and will become the third largest aviation market by 2020.
 According to Firestone Management Group’s first biannual report, “Private jet landscape within the Republic of India,” released on March 31, 2011, out of 136 business jets in the India, 43 jets have been added in the last three years, registering a rise of 46 per cent.
 Firestone founder and managing director Justin Firestone said in a press release, “the growth opportunity for private jet manufacturers to deliver their products into India is tremendous.”

Hawker Beechcraft leads the market holding 26 per cent share with 35 private jets; Cessna Aircraft Company has a market share of 23 per cent with 31 private jets; Bombardier has a share of 18 per cent with 24 private jets; Dassault Falcon Jet holds 13 per cent share with 17 jets; Gulfstream Aerospace Corp has 11 per cent share with 15 private jets; and Embraer, Boeing, and Airbus has sold nine, three and two private jets, the report adds. 
The key factors that are driving growth is due to increased number of field service representatives from the major builders, spare parts being warehoused on site in India, and efforts by the Indian government, along with private contractors, to improve fixed based operator (FBO) services, Firestone added, also in the press release.

In order to define standards of Business Aviation in India with the highest levels of safety, efficiency and reliability and to look after the interest of business jet operators, the Business Aircraft Operators’ Association (BAOA), a non-profit organization was formed recently. 
BAOA is recognised by International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the umbrella organization for all business aviation activities across the world, and includes members such as National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), others.
 Currently, the association has 39 members, which represent 65 per cent of the total fleet in general aviation in India, which includes private and commercial operators, airframe and engine manufacturers, MRO’s and other service providers as members.

Rohit Kapur, President of BAOA, commented in a ROOSTERGNN interview that, “the business aviation industry is growing at an encouraging rate and India is all set to be the third largest aviation market by 2020. Considering the immense potential India has with more than 1000 aircrafts to be added over the next 10 years, there is an imminent need of a body that would aim to bring the fraternity into close cooperation for overall industry growth and mutual benefits.”

As the economy is growing with an average rate of eight per cent for the last decade, business aviation has tremendous growth, as it saves time and also helps people travelling places that can’t be reached by civil airline services.
 Global consultancy firm, KPMG’s Director for Aerospace and Defence, Amber Dubey said, “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.”

According to the official data by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the private jet fleet in the country is around 135, close to 10 per cent out of a total of 1,146 aircraft, and costs around of a private jets range varies from around $4 million to $58 million.
 As per the Brazilian aircraft manufacturing firm, Embraer estimates, more than 360 business jets worth $9 billion will be added in the Indian market by 2020. 
Business jet sales should progressively accelerate in India due to economic growth and wealth creation and more than 325 new business jet deliveries in India by 2019, Bombardier said in its latest market forecast.

At the recent India Aviation 2014 event held at Hyderabad in March 2014, John Rosanvallon, President and CEO of Dassault Falcon, said, “we have been encouraged about the potential for long term growth in business aviation in India. Business jets are now seen in the region as a powerful tool to enable quick and convenient access to customers within the country, and worldwide.”

Making a point on the industry growth, Dan Keady, VP of Hawker Beechcraft for India/South Pacific said, “one of the biggest reasons is that the Reserve Bank of India has very tight control on money in and out of the country so, overall, India was not as deeply affected by the global financial crisis.”

Industries like mining, oil & gas depend highly on business aviation for taking their employees and executives to destinations out of reach. However, lack of basic infrastructure and standards of safety and security are not adequately defined.
 Yet banking and civil aviation regulations are two of the challenges facing India’s business aviation sector.

The Reserve Bank of India has extreme control over the purchase of a business aircraft and rules laid down by the DGCA are restrictive when it comes to training. The shortage of developed infrastructure and lack of easy access to airspace and landing permits can also hinder the growth, Keady added.
 Adding further, Cessna’s Esling said, “airports tend to prevent business jets from landing at peak times, and FBOs, business jet passengers need to be processed through the same terminal facilities as all other passengers. Operating costs at these facilities are substantial and for a more even development in business jet demand, costs need to subside.”

“The pace of growth in Business Aviation has outgrown the infrastructure available for the industry,” Rohit Kapur said.
 The problems have not deterred many business air framers in setting up their service centre. Embraer has announced that Air Works of Mumbai (VIDP) would be an authorized service centre for Phenoms, with bases in Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. Cessna, which has a Citation service centre at Hosur airport near Bangalore, is looking to create another service centre and Hawker Beechcraft is in the final stages of setting up a service centre in Mumbai, to add to an existing one in New Delhi. It is also planning a bonded warehouse this year to increase the availability of spare parts.

Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia, Centre for Aviation (CAPA), an aviation market intelligence & consultancy firm said, Airports Authority of India, the nodal agency for airport development in the country should plan to add new airports and modernize existing metro airports, which will further enable growth of India’s business jet market.

With economic slowdown still persists in the American and European markets, the adding of over 360 business jets worth $9 billion by 2020 in India has bring some cheers to the global business jet manufacturers and service providers. Many of them are entering India with domestic partnerships and joint venture by opening maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centers in the country itself.

— Jagdish Kumar