BJETS, which aims to start the first pan-Asian fractional ownership firm with 50 business jets, plans to actively offer aircraft management services as well to meet growing demand in India and South-East Asia.
"We have started operations as a fractional ownership, block charter company and traditional charter company, and that remains our core business. India and South-East Asia have great potential and we are confident about the opportunities that lie ahead," says Mark Baier, chief executive of BJETS.
"However, several potential customers in both regions have asked us to manage their aircraft. We did anticipate moving into this area eventually, but the demand for this service has taken us by surprise. There appears to be a shortage of good aircraft management companies in these regions, and we have the expertise to provide this. We believe that we can fill this gap."
© Hawker Beechcraft
For now, the focus remains on BJETS' existing business. It has taken delivery of four of the 40 jets it ordered, and started charter operations as planned in September after test flights in August. Baier admits that the company has not signed any clients for its fractional ownership programme, but he expects that to change shortly.
"There is greater demand for fractional ownership than block charters, and we have flown potential clients on our aircraft to let them enjoy the experience. Fractional ownership is a relatively new concept in India and South-East Asia, but there is growing interest and customers will sign shortly," says Baier.
The company has firm orders for 20 Cessna Citation CJ2+s, nine Hawker 850XPs, 11 Hawker 900XPs, and 10 Hawker 4000s. Three 850XPs and one CJ2+ have been delivered, and it plans to add three more CJ2+s and one 850XP by the end of the year.
All of the aircraft will be in service within the next five years, but Baier says that this could be accelerated if demand increases and delivery slots open up. All will be outfitted with exteriors and interiors designed by BMW DesignWorksUSA.
The aircraft will have Indian registration, and BJETS has signed maintenance contracts with regional authorised workshops. It hopes to base around two-thirds of the aircraft in India and the rest in Singapore.
BJETS' major shareholder is the privately held USA-based investment firm Briley Group, whose chief executive Bala Ramamoorthy set up BJETS in 2006. Its other backer is Indian Hotels, operator of the Taj brand of luxury hotels in India and part of the Tata Group international conglomerate.
Analysts believe that its plan to focus on India is sound due to the country's growing economic wealth, which has led to greater interest in business aviation. However, the country also faces numerous challenges such as a woeful infrastructure and shortage of maintenance facilities dedicated to business aviation.
Companies that take a punt and places aircraft around the region could reap rich benefits from a fast-growing corporate aviation market, which could take off rapidly in the coming years, they add.