Singapore-based BJets Pte Ltd, part-owned by the Tata group, will purchase up to 50 planes for some $600 million (Rs2,394 crore) to launch what could potentially be Asia’s largest fractional ownership private jet firm.
Flight plan: A Citation CJ2 aircraft manufactured by Rhode Island, US-based Textron Inc. Singapore-based BJets Pte, promoted by the Briley Group, will purchase 20 of these aircraft for $150 million.
The order — $150 million for 20 Citation CJ2 aircraft, manufactured by Rhode Island, US-based Textron Inc. and $450 million for nine Hawker 850XP, 11 Hawker 900XP’s, which are made by Kansas, US-headed Hawker Beechraft Corp.—is the biggest private jets order ever placed in Asia.
The deal includes options to buy 10 Hawker planes.
It is unclear how large the Tata group’s ownership in BJets is; the company’s chief executive Mark Baier declined to answer a question from an AP reporter on the subject.
Fenix Wong, a spokesperson for the company, told Mint the investment was “significant,” but declined further detail.
The stake is held by a Tata subsidiary, the Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, which also owns or leases a small number of aircraft for use by customers at its more expensive properties.
Privately held Bjets was launched by a Singapore firm called the Briley Group, which is controlled by an Indian entrepreneur named Bala Ramamoorthy and the Tata group, according to a Textron official familiar with the negotiations.
It has offices in Mumbai and Hyderabad, and will likely use the new Hyderabad airport as a base of operations, the Textron official said.
In a September interview, Baier had told Mint that BJets plans to offer its services in India, China and the rest of Asia.
The aircraft deliveries will start in May, according to a statement from BJets handed out at the ongoing Singapore Airshow. By the end of the year, the company will have Asia’s largest fleet of private planes.
Under the fractional ownership models, customers pay to use a fixed number of flight hours each year, while a company such as BJets maintains the aircraft and provides pilots and flight crew.
The Briley Group, which started companies such as InterPro and PayStaff in the back-office and staffing services space in the US, is now focusing on emerging markets in Asia.
Corstone Capital, a group investment firm focusing primarily on non-performing loans, real estate-related assets, and operating companies in Asia, was an early entrant in China.
Two other Indian firms announced orders at the Singapore Airshow, which runs through Friday.
Manav Singh, the owner of Club One Air, India’s first fractional ownership company, has agreed to buy 10 jets from Eclipse Aviation Corp., but did not provide a delivery schedule or a value for the order.
Chimes Aviation Pvt. Ltd, which runs a flight school in Madhya Pradesh, ordered 20 single engine 172 Skyhawk aircraft from Cessna, which retail for $250,000 each.
It is common for buyers to negotiate steep discounts on bulk purchases, though.