Indian aviation services company Aviators has delayed the operation of a fractional ownership programme in favour of starting Pilatus PC-12 charter services from early 2004.

Bangalore-based Aviators launched a fractional scheme in March and had predicted the first aircraft sold under the programme would be in service by this month (Flight International, 18-24 February). The programme attracted significant interest, but is still without a launch customer, due to wary investors, says Aviators managing director Arun Sharma. "We have to accept that we have to build up the credibility of our operation before launching a fractional programme," he says.

In place of the fractional scheme, Aviators aims to launch a charter operation by February using two Pilatus PC-12 turboprops in corporate configuration.

The company is finalising a lease deal with South African lessor Aircraft Acquisitions and expects delivery of the first aircraft in February, followed by the second "within 45 days," says Sharma. One aircraft will be based at Bangalore, with another likely to be stationed in New Delhi.

Aviators will charge Rp55,000/h ($1,200/h) and expects to run around 600h a year on each airframe. Aviators will target its existing customer base, estimating that the PC-12 can land on almost all of India's 171 usable airfields. If the charter operation is successful, Aviators will relaunch the fractional programme late next year.

Aviators has preselected the superlight Cessna Citation Excel for the fractional scheme alongside the PC-12. Sharma says the interest has been "phenomenal", but adds that no-one wanted to be the first to invest. The company always had charter as "a fall-back plan", but has had to restructure, he says.

Source: Flight International