Private jets eye the Indian skies

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Sep 20 | Updated: Sep 21 2007, 06:31am hrs
Top global business jet manufacturers, including Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) of the US and Canadas Bombardier, will go all-out to woo Indian business houses and entrepreneurs with offers ranging from finance and insurance support to after-sales engineering.

These companies are also attracting customers with fuel-efficient jets. Hawker Beechcraft, which has 73 aircraft operating in India today, is looking to sell more than a hundred over the next three years, while Bombardier has a long-term plan, targeting 350 aircraft over 20 years. These business jet manufacturers are using aggressive marketing tools to increase their order size in India. HBC is offering a basket of after-sales services and is planning to provide pilots, too, along with jets. Says Nigel A Harwood, CEO, Interglobe General Aviation, a firm that provides sales and service support to HBC, We may provide type-rated pilots to our Indian customers. We will also introduce our customers to Willis Insurance Company in the US to

insure aircraft.

Explaining the features of its latest Hawker 4,000, which costs $21.5 million exclusive of taxes, Jim Schuster, chairman and CEO, HBC, says, Built with advanced integrated systems and a composite fuselage, it is the only super mid-size business jet that features an inertial reference system for navigation plus an auto-throttle from take-offs to touchdowns. He adds that the new product is ideal for Indian customers because it can fly non-stop for 3,300 nautical miles. In addition, the Hawker 4,000 comes with a full 10-year/10,000-hour airframe warranty.

Meanwhile, Bombardier, too, is all geared up to face stiff competition from arch rival HBC. Says a Bombardier executive, Currently, corporate houses and regional airlines in India use around 14 business and regional jets manufactured by us. Airlines like Jetlite and Alliance Air are in the queue to place orders for our jets.

Bombardier, which is famous for its CRJ family of jets, offers a broad service portfolio with service centres and pilots. We also offer fractional ownership called Flesjet, he says.