The last decade saw low-cost carriers taking the flying experience to the common man. The next is expected to be where private business jets and helicopters will flit about the skies as companies seek faster growth, and people with higher disposable income spend more to reach their destinations quick and straight, soaring over infrastructure bottlenecks.
The hypothesis would mean Indians — both companies and rich people — will spend over Rs50,000 crore to buy private business jets and helicopters over the next decade, said the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa). The agency predicts India’s general aviation fleet would touch the 2,000 mark, or triple from the current figure of 680.
General aviation refers to business jets, helicopters, turboprops and planes with piston engines — that are for private use.
Amber Dubey, director of aerospace and defence, KPMG, the Big Four audit firm, concurs with Capa’s projection. “In the next decade, we expect the general aviation segment to grow at twice the pace of scheduled airlines. So, a fleet size of 2,000 looks realistic. This is, however, subject to corresponding enhancement in airport infrastructure across the country,” said Dubey.
That infrastructure growth will be crucial and further help boost demand, said AJS Walia, managing director — India and South Asia - Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky is a major US-based helicopter manufacturer.
While Capa projects the total current fleet to be at 680 aircraft, a senior official of one of the top global aircraft makers said of these, private business jets alone number around 120 today. Industry estimates another 114 business jets to be added over the next two-three years. “But I expect around only 50 to 60 aircraft to be inducted in two years in the business jets segment. That would be around 50% growth,” an official said. “In the last two years, around 50 business jets were bought in India.”
In the helicopter segment, according to industry officials, the current fleet is around 300-plus aircraft. “We expect 70 to 110 more helicopters to be inducted in two to three years time,” said Walia. Dubey said the helicopter segment is expected to witness more robust demand.
“They would prove more convenient for industrial, mining, port and tourist locations where building a runway and fixed-wing operations may not be a financially viable option,” he said.