World’s largest charter company eyes India entry

The huge spurt in demand for hiring business jets in India has now prompted the world’s largest charter company to have a subsidiary here. Zurich-based VistaJet is in talks with some Indian charter firms and is aiming to have a JV functional within a year.  It is going to bring the world’s most luxurious mid-size business jet — Bombardier’s Global 6000 — to the country. Only three top industrialists in India have placed order for this high-end personal jet and one of them is expecting delivery for personal use soon.  “We plan to have two to three Challenger 350 aircraft with an Indian registration (VT) stationed here by the first quarter of next year. At present, our charters operated by VistaJet’s Austria and Malta registered planes either have to originate or terminate outside India. The Indian-registered planes will face no such restrictions and be able to fly both within and outside the country,” Sheena de Mr Boisgelin, VistaJet’s India head, told TOI. The decision came after VistaJet’s high net worth clients told the company they wanted to fly their planes for their entire trip to India. Having an Indian JV will mean that a client flying in from London to Delhi on VistaJet charter will be able to fly within the country in luxury too.  “We will start with the Challenger 350. Our aim is to get the top of the line Global 6000 that has a range of flying 13 hours nonstop and has a three-cabin interior with a bedroom,” Mr Boisgelin said.  However, the company is aware of some peculiar challenges India will pose. “Charter companies coming into India face a huge roadblock. A lot of owners (of business jets in India) rent out their planes to friends and business associates to cover the cost. A business jet like the Global 6000 has to be flown for 1,200 hours a year to recover costs but hardly any (individual owner here) flies that much. So, they rent them out at a fraction of cost to friends. These low charges are then quoted to charter companies. Apart from India, we face this challenge only in some parts of Africa like Nigeria,” she said.  Mr Boisgelin said charter firms can’t offer those charges as they give a highly customized product along with guaranteed availability of aircraft within 24 hours to clients with facility of backup planes too.  Also, the recent downgrade of India’s aviation safety ranking by the US Federal Aviation administration will mean that international charter firms opening shops here will have to use a mix of Indian and foreign registered planes for their clients. Following the downgrade, Indian aircraft can be held up abroad for intensive checks and be grounded indefinitely.

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