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Indians splurging on second-hand jets

November 26, 2007 08:55 IST
Indians are splurging to fly high on second-hand private jets. The cost of these jets (over 75 per cent of the business jets sold in the country are second-hand), are on an average up to 50 per cent cheaper than a new aircraft.

As a result, the number of jets (new as well as old ones) sold have virtually doubled in the last two years to 85 in 2006-7 from 45 in 2005.

Second hand aircraft are available at attractive prices. An eight to ten year old Gulfstream 1V with six to ten seats is available at a street price of $ 20 million compared to $ 40 million for a new model. An eight year old Challenger 604 is for your asking at $ 15 million compared with $ 30 million for a new one. A Citation CJ 2 of eight to 10-year old has a price tag of only $4.5 million ($12 million for a new plane).

Anticipating the huge boom in the business aviation market, aircraft component and engine manufacturers such as Honeywell are already gearing up by establishing engine maintenance and service centres for private jets.

"There will be at least 150 private jets flying in the country in the next five years," estimates Rishi Raj Singh, sales manager, South and Central Asia, for the business and the general aviation section in Honeywell.

While the Ambanis, according to industry sources, spent over $250 million for more than six business jets, which included an Airbus corporate jet (ACJ), Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure acquired two Falcon aircraft during 2006-07. GMR is planning to use the aircraft for air taxi services for which it recently got DGCA approval.

Apart from that, the year 2006-07 saw several real estate developers like DLF, Emaar/MGF, automobile giants like Ashok Leyland and Pune-based auto component manufacturer Bharat Forge ordering business aircraft like the Challenger 300, Challenger 604 and the Gulfstream IV. .

The boom, according to experts, is due to more and more companies waking up to the better deals and faster deliveries from the pre-owned market. "While it takes a new aircraft three years to be delivered, an second hand aircraft can be delivered in three months. Also an aircraft could get discounts ranging from 10-50 per cent when bought from the used market," said Manav Singh, CMD of charter operators Club One Air. Almost all the aircraft ordered by DLF, Emaar/MGF and Punj Lloyd were from the used market, industry sources said.

Anticipating a huge boom in the corporate jet market, avionics and engine manufacturer Honeywell is already setting up an engine maintenance and service centre for business aircraft in India.

"We already have avionics sales and service centres in Mumbai and Delhi. Now we are looking at putting up engine maintenance and service centres at the Delhi and Mumbai international airports,"said Rishiraj Singh. Honeywell is globally one of the largest companies in aircraft components like engines, auxiliary power units (APUs) and avionics.

Though we are looking at in line maintenance initially, we should be able to do complete overhaul by 2012."

We are looking at servicing the TFE-731 engines which power most of the Falcon and Hawker aircraft in India, which combined have the largest market share in business jets in India. At a total of around 45 such engines in the country, we think it is a good market,"

Singh also thinks that mid-sized jets ranged from $10-$30 million are the ones that have a huge market in India, "What people are looking for at present is comfort as well as range. As more and more companies get globalised, people would be looking for jets which can operate in long haul routes like Europe and the US with minimum stops," said Singh.

Anirban Chowdhury in New Delhi
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