India's Deccan Aviation plans to launch a business-jet charter operation later this year with two Bombardier Learjets or Cessna Citations.

The Bangalore-based company, which already operates two Pilatus PC-12s and eight helicopters on a mix of missions, including VIP transport, has been looking at expanding into business jets for years and says that there is finally enough demand to merit taking the plunge.

"We're in the final stages of acquiring two business jets," says managing director G R Gopinath. "I felt until now the economy wasn't ripe for business jets. With the economy now booming, I feel the market is there for business jets to be deployed." He says Deccan will buy either the Citation Bravo, the Learjet 45 or Learjet 60.

One aircraft will be based in Mumbai and another in Delhi. Deccan now bases its PC-12s in these two fast-growing business centres. The new business jets will be used mainly to shuttle VIPs within India and to other destinations in south Asia and the Middle East. They will also be available for emergency medical services.

Today, there are only a handful of business jets available in India for charter. Almost all business aircraft registered in India are owned and operated by major corporations, although some of these are available for ad-hoc charter.

India's burgeoning economy has convinced several Indian corporations to acquire jets, including four Cessna Citations that were delivered last year, or are being delivered later this year.

Deccan aims to eventually operate a large business jet fleet, including larger long-range aircraft. Helicopter charter is Deccan's original business and the company now operates two Bell 407s, four Bell 206s and two Eurocopter AS355s from seven bases throughout the country. Gopinath says two more 407s will be acquired this year.

In 2003 the company launched a scheduled airline that now operates ATR 42s and Airbus A320s, which are also occasionally used for charters.

Last month Deccan launched a third-party general aviation maintenance business called Deccan Technical Services (DTS).

Source: Flight International