The demand for long-range business jets, such as the G450 and G550 on display at Aero India this week, remains robust because of the rapid expansion of global business ties, says Roger Sperry, Gulfstream’s regional senior vice president, International Sales. Gulfstream’s strongest sellers are also its longest range and most capable aircraft.
“This suggests to us that emerging multinational companies have a tremendous, pent-up need for rapid and flexible transportation across and between continents,” Sperry said.
Indeed, figures from aviation data firm JetNet confirm that new business-jet deliveries to the Asia-Pacific region grew from 7 percent of global deliveries in 2007 to 12 percent in 2009. JetNet cited India as having the second-largest fleet in the region, with 143 business aircraft of all sorts.
Gulfstream’s fleet in India, while still relatively small in absolute numbers, is growing rapidly. The company had five aircraft in service in India in 2001 and has 17 today. Twelve of those are in Gulfstream’s large-cabin, long-range segment and include today’s longest-range certified business jet, the G550, which can travel more than 12,000 km nonstop. The balance of the fleet is mid-cabin jets with range capability of 5,556 km for the G150 to 6,300 km for the G200.
“We see great long-term potential in the Indian market as infrastructure for business aviation expands and government officials focus more on this segment,” said Sperry. “The rapid development of commercial air traffic is a vital focus on the part of government; we believe attention will soon turn to business aviation, as well.”
Infrastructure, Sperry said, includes business-jet passenger terminals (FBOs), expanded ramp space and hangar facilities as well as increased airport capacity. Curfews in major cities limit available operating slots for business jets.
“These are the challenges of a fast-growing economy, and we expect they will be addressed, because business aviation is an important component of the transportation system,” Sperry said.
In terms of market potential, Sperry cited India’s growing roster of billionaires (reportedly 47, ranking the country fourth in the world), according to Forbes’ 2010 billionaires list. Moreover, India, with more than 126,000 millionaires, has the world’s eighth-largest base of high-net-worth individuals, with recent year-over-year growth of 51 percent, according to Merrill Lynch-Capgemini, not to mention an active IPO market and positive investment climate.
“The key for us is to expose business leaders to the remarkable ability to move rapidly across continents to manage international operations or acquire new business entities,” Sperry said. ”Speed and flexibility are essential in today’s competitive global market. And Gulfstream offers both of those.”
Sperry also commented on the Gulfstream commitment to support its customers globally. It has the largest business-aviation support organization in the world with more than 3,300 employees and $1.2 billion in spare parts located around the world. Gulfstream aircraft are supported by Airworks India, with parts provided from major supply bases in Madrid, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Gulfstream also has a Chennai-based field service representative available at any time to Indian customers. In addition, it recently named Arrow Aircraft Sales and Charters Private Limited, a professional business-aviation service provider, as its in-country authorized independent sales representative.
“Aero India gives us a chance to showcase our aircraft,” said Sperry. “Just as important, we want the Indian market to know that it has the world’s number one support organization and a total workforce of 10,000 employees standing behind it.”