Very light jets (VLJs) could be criss-crossing Indian skies in 2008, with fractional ownership operator Club One Air confirming that it is in talks with two manufacturers to set up a maintenance and charter business for the aircraft in the country.
"We are still in discussions with the two companies. A decision is likely in the coming month," says the company´s managing director Manav Singh.
He confirmed that one of the two companies is Eclipse Aviation, manufacturer of the six-seat Eclipse 500. Other VLJ manufacturers include Cessna, with the Citation Mustang, Adam Aircraft and its A700, and Embraer with the Phenom 100.
If the venture takes off, it is likely to be the first commercial aviation operation offering VLJs in India. If everything goes according to plan, Club One Air plans to have its first VLJ in service around March and add another 10 over the following year. These will be available under the company´s fractional ownership plans.
Club One Air is likely to invest around 5 billion rupees ($ 126 million) into the VLJ maintenance, repair and overhaul centre, and provide the crew for charter services. The selected partner will provide the aircraft and maintenance technology. The company plans to seek certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration and India´s directorate general of civil aviation for their operation shortly.
According to Indian news reports, the company is also planning to launch budget air charters in India in 2008. It is expected to offer charter services at half the cost of regular business jet charters in the country.