Singaporean air charter operator starts services in India

September 30th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) Sensing a big business opportunity, Singapore-based air charter operator BJETS has begun operations in the country, a top company official said here Tuesday.”We have begun our chartered operations with four Hawker variant aircraft in India and south-east Asia. Four more aircraft are scheduled to be included in our fleet by the year-end,” BJETS chief executive officer Mark Baier told reporters here Tuesday.

Tata Group’s Indian Hotels recently bought a stake in BJETS, part of Singapore’s Briley Group, which has business interests in aviation, hospitality, business process outsourcing and technology.

Earlier this year, BJETS ordered 50 jets - 20 Cessnas and 30 Hawkers - worth more than $1 billion at the Singapore Airshow.

“The 50 jets will be added to our fleet over five years,” said Baier.

BJETS started its dedicated fractional and block charter services last month and will have to compete with other international business charter operators like Maybachs Rolls Royce and Swish Set, active in India for over a year now.

While India’s commercial airports are notoriously overcrowded, business jets can take advantage of a strong network of airports or defence airstrips that date back to the British colonial era.

“We would fly to 120 places. Indian airliners fly to 60 destinations at present. Time is expensive. Flying on our jets will save time and energy,” Baier said.

According to a BJETS official, a Mumbai-Singapore trip would take just three hours as compared to five hours on regular flights.

The air operations of BJETS will be based in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi.

Though there is no reliable figure for business jets in India, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) - a regional industry intelligence provider - estimates that there are about 180 aircraft registered for private, corporate and charter purposes.

These include business jets, turboprop aircraft and helicopters.

Though Baier did not divulge his company’s hiring charges, a BJETS official said booking a lightweight jet like Hawker 400XP and Cessna Citation for 25 hours of flying time for other charter operators costs about Rs.8 million in India.

With India being placed fourth in the number of Forbes’ list of world’s billionaires with 53 billionaires, the country demonstrates higher growth potential than the US and China, says Ian Moore, country head, India and vice-president-sales, BJETS.

“In India, wealth creation is taking place at a phenomenal pace. Not just big industrialists but many businessmen from tier-II and tier-III towns are enthusiastically looking at these planes,” said the BJETS official.

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