Business jet manufacturers Embraer and Gulfstream remain optimistic about India's prospects, with both companies saying that the growth continues despite several challenges.

Embraer expects the executive jet business in India to grow four times over to around $8.9 billion by 2020. "We see this as the main market in Asia-Pacific," says Embraer Asia-Pacific executive jet sales director Manfred Baudzus.

While demand leans towards its medium and large size business jets like the Lineage, Embraer says that its entry-level Phenom aircraft that can reach the entire subcontinent is also popular.

Gulfstream points out that while it had five aircraft in service in India in 2001, that has grown to 17 today. Of those, 12 are its large-cabin long-range G550, which can travel more than 12,000km nonstop.

"We see great long-term potential in the Indian market as infrastructure for business aviation expands and government officials focus more on this segment," says Roger Sperry, Gulfstream's regional senior vice president for international sales. "The rapid development of commercial air traffic is a vital focus on the part of government; we believe attention will soon turn to business aviation, as well."

Much of this is driven by India's growing wealth. The country reportedly has 47 billionaires, according to Forbes' 2010 list. It also has more than 126,000 millionaires, the world's eighth-largest base of high-net-worth individuals.

Several challenges remain. Jose Eduardo Costas, Embraer's Asia Pacific vice-resident for marketing and sales, points out that the Indian government's high import tax on business jets shows a "narrow vision". However, he adds: "We are confident, regardless of taxes, [that] there is demand".

Infrastructure problems must also be overcome, says Sperry. These include a shortage of fixed base operations, expanded ramp space and hangar facilities, and curfews in major cities limit that limit operating slots for business jets.

"These are the challenges of a fast-growing economy, and we expect they will be addressed, because business aviation is an important component of the transportation system," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News