The king of good times is now expanding the horizon of his aviation business. Following the recent acquisition of 50% stake in US-based Epic Aircraft, Vijay Mallya plans to manufacture the very lights jets (VLJ) in India. Epic Aircraft manufactures single and twin engine VLJ under the name Dynasty, Victory, Elite, LT and Escape.
“Once the certification process of Dynasty, Victory and Elite is done in the US, I want to manufacture them in India. The manufacturing base in India will largely target Middle-East and Asia besides the domestic market,” Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya told ET. “Also, considering the enterprise value of the acquisition ($120 million) will rise tremendously after certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration, it will result in good cash flow for us,” said Dr Mallya.
With Dr Mallya acquiring stake in the company, Epic Aircraft also got access to Airbus resources to accelerate the certification of its new VLJs — Elite and Victory. The certified delivery of twin engine Elite is expected in 2009. The single engine 6-place turboprop Dynasty is expected to be certified sometime in the fourth quarter of 2008 and is expected to sell for about $2 million in early 2009. Also a statement from the company said that it had secured orders worth $63 million at two air shows in Florida and Wisconsin.
As against the business jets, which cost upwards of $10 million, the four-six seater VLJs are light on the pocket ranging between $1 million and $3 million. This pricing places the aircraft well within the reach of growing number of top-level corporates in India. Increasing number of real estate and construction companies are taking a fancy to private jets. With manufacturing of Epic’s VLJs being planned in India, the price is expected to come down further.
According to General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the international business jet market recorded new highs last year reporting sales of $18.8 billion, a whopping 24.1% jump over $15.1 billion reported in 2005. And, as far as the private aircraft market in India is concerned, the number of private aircraft is anywhere between 175 and 200. In the next four years, this number is expected to cross the 500-mark.