NetJets plans to introduce a fractional ownership and charter operation in India in a bid to promote business aviation in the country.

The company wants to start a dialogue with the Indian government in an attempt to promote business aviation and help develop the country's infrastructure to support the growing numbers of business aircraft operations in the country.

As a first step the world's largest fractional operator last month appointed Mumbai-based luxury brand marketing company Shreyans to sell fractional shares to Indian customers.

"This market is very important," says business development manager NetJets Europe Robert Dranitzke. "Demand for flights to this country has increased by 400% in the last four years and expect to grow again this year by another 50%."

Dranitzke says the majority of demand is from existing NetJets customers from the USA and Europe wishing to travel to India, but the company says this partnership will help to build its indigenous Indian customer base.

Ashish Chordia, Shreyans chief executive, says at least 20 Indians already use NetJets' services in Europe. "We have identified around 1,000 [potential customers] on our initial list. Our strategy would be direct marketing through one-on-one meetings,"

NetJets says it is "carefully evaluating" a number of possibilities in India, including forming a joint venture with an Indian operator, similar to the arrangement it formed with Saudi Arabia-based NetJets Middle East partner, National Air Services.

This strategy would give the brand more exposure and allow NetJets to overcome India's restrictive cabotage rules and the strict regulation regarding foreign ownership of national companies.

"We are open to working with existing aviation players," Dranitzke says. "We want to understand and respect the Indian culture and help to develop the country's aviation infrastructure by making it more business- and customer-friendly and less bureaucratic."

India already has several aircraft charter brokers, some of which also offer management services. The closest it has to a a fractional ownership provider is Club Air One, which offers nine business jets for charter.

The operator also has 10 Eclipse 500s very light jets on order and plans to use them to target the country's upper middle class.

Start-up operator BJets recently announced plans to set up a charter and fractional ownership firm targeted mainly at the Indian market. Backed by the hotels arm of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, the Hyderbad-based company plans to begin operations by June.

It has placed firm orders for 20 Cessna Citation CJ2+s and 20 Hawker 850XP business jets.