Maintenance, repair and overhaul company Air Works is in talks with a "well-known" western business aircraft management firm to establish a joint venture in India.
The companies are in the final stages of negotiations and an announcement could be made by the end of April, says Air Works managing director Vivek Gour.
"We want to be the first to launch a world class business aircraft management firm in India," he adds. "There is a lot of demand for business jets in India, but there is also a crying need for good quality management services.
"We want to be careful about who we tie up with, but this joint venture with a well-known name would meet that criteria and the demand for these services."
Gour says Air Works, which has established business aviation MRO facilities in Mumbai, New Delhi and Hosur, near Bengaluru, did not want to enter aircraft management by itself as it did not have the necessary expertise.
"It is like trying to mix engine grease with white gloves. We know what we are good at, but this is something where we want to get an outside partner to provide the expertise. We want to provide good service, that is what the Indian customers want and have been asking for," he says.
The company, however, is not interested in starting a fixed-base operation in India. Gour believes this is an area best left to the airport operators themselves.
"There is a market for FBOs in India, but we don't run the airports and we are not keen to invest in this area. We want to stick to what we know," Gour says.
Air Works' New Delhi hangar, which handles business aircraft, is the first in India to receive EASA certification. The company is working to get certification for its hangar in Mumbai as well, says Gour. It could also invest in a greenfield business aviation in Chennai, in the south of India, he adds.
At the India Aviation show in Hyderabad, Air Works announced it is moving into the VIP aircraft cabin refurbishment business. It has worked with DC Design, led by one of India's leading car interior designers Dilip Chhabria, and unveiled a prototype of a business jet cabin at the show.
Developed at DC Design's facility in Pune, the interior has an asymmetrical design which can be customised for a range of VIP cabins ranging from helicopters to a Gulfstream G550.
Gour says the Indian VIP aircraft cabin refurbishment market is worth about $150-200 million a year. With the company forming a joint venture with Scandinavian Avionics to set up an EASA-certificated avionics shop in India, Air Works is able to offer a "one-stop" option for potential customers.
"Our plan is to leverage our airframe, avionics and now interiors refurbishment capabilities collectively," he says. "This will provide customers with an option to upgrade their aircraft both in terms of avionics [in-flight entertainment, satcom], design, comfort and ergonomics, which will help them improve their flying experience as well as the value of their aircraft."