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Charter aviation firm goes slow on deliveries

Charter aviation firm goes slow on deliveries
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First Published: Fri, Mar 20 2009. 01 15 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Mar 20 2009. 12 39 PM IST
New Delhi: Aviation services provider Bjets, run by Business Jets India Pvt. Ltd, has deferred deliveries of six aircraft, which were scheduled to join its fleet in India this year, the firm’s top executive said.
Launched mid-2008, Bjets, owned by Singapore’s Birley Group and Tata group’s Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, had ordered 50 business jets valued at $1 billion (Rs5,080 crore) to join its fleet over four-five years. With a fleet of four planes in India and one in South East Asia, it had set an aggressive target of 21 planes in its fleet by end-2009.
But Mark Baier, chief executive of Business Jets India, said the company will now add only between five and 10 planes this year, with the rest having been deferred. “This sort of turmoil was unforseen for all,” he said about the economic slowdown. The firm saw demand from business customers slow in September-October and then grow a little, he added. Bjets uses aircraft made by Cessna Aircraft Co. and Hawker Beechcraft Inc. and plans to recruit up to 30 pilots this year.
Separately, the firm has entered into an alliance with domestic helicopter company Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd to connect small towns where jets cannot land. Global Vectra will deploy at least five of its helicopters as part of the arrangement. “(This) will enable our customers to fly to all those destinations which cannot be reached by other aircraft,” Baier said, insisting the timing of the alliance had nothing to do with the general election starting 16 April.
Elections are high-demand season for helicopter firms such as state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd and other private charter companies.
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First Published: Fri, Mar 20 2009. 01 15 AM IST