Luxury on two wings

Updated: Dec 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
Its the latest fashion statement among the whos who of the country. And that too in the sky. Forget super cars or bikes, or even the occasional yachts. Corporate jets are the newest, and the best, way to announce your arrival. And with the civil aviation ministry already clearing about 100 requests for acquiring corporate aircrafts in the past six months, aircraft manufacturers from the worldover, understandably, are eyeing India as their brand new target. Experts even expect this number to double before 2007 ends.

For now, only the biggies flaunt these toys. This includes electronics major Videocon, GMR group and TVS Motors. Meanwhile, Dr Vijay Mallyas UB Group has already received a bigger jet from Airbus corporate jetliners.

Indeed, it is still an exclusive club. The reason: business jets come for a price. David Velupillai, product marketing manager, Executive & Private Aviation, Airbus, puts the price tag of around $55 million for a big corporate jet. But it is worth the price, with sophisticated interior works featuring separate dining and bedrooms, bathrooms fitted with Jacuzzis and board rooms. Want more

The Indian skies, as they say, is a virtual battleground. If on the one hand we have the low cost carriers that driving domestic traffic growth to 50%, the market for corporate jets is expected to grow by almost 100%. According to Velupillai, the A318 corporate jet comes under the same price bracket as the smaller business aircraft from Bombardier, but with twice the diameter.

Airbus corporate jetliners have won a record 22 sales in 2006, giving them their best year ever. Boeing, however, has had 100 sales. Airbus ACJ Familys total sales now stand at around 80. The jets are custom designed for the high-end group, who like its spacious cabin (the widest in its class), modern design, robust reliability and solid support.

Airbus delivered seven corporate jets in the first half of 2006, including the first for an Indian customer, the UB Group parent company of Kingfisher Airlines. Both aircraft are currently being outfitted by Associated Air Center of Texas.