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New Delhi: Top corporates and wealthy individuals continue to snap up business jets or tie up with aircraft operators for them, even though some of the pandemic-driven demand for private travel has tapered off.

The latest addition to the business jet fleet in 2022 was a Bombardier Global 6500 purchased by Bajaj Auto Ltd and registered in December. This was a month after Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd’s business jet company inducted a Bombardier Global 7000 to its fleet. Mumbai-based Welspun Group also inducted a Bombardier Learjet recently, two people aware of the matter said.

Lucknow-based infrastructure company Apco Infratech registered an Embraer Legacy 650 in India in August 2022 and a Legacy 500 abroad for use by the company and its promoters.

While some purchase aircraft, others sign timeshare deals with business jet operators. For instance, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd has entered into such an arrangement with business jet operator JetSetGo “for facilitating economical and prompt flight operations on demand," said one of the two people cited above.

This comes at a time demand for business jets has declined as many high-net worth individuals, who had turned to private jets during the covid pandemic, have returned to commercial flights.

“We have seen a spike in queries for buying business jets. The recent demand is strong on the back of several corporates and wealthy individuals who have opted to buy or timeshare a business jet not just for their domestic flying needs but also for their medium- and long-haul international flying requirements," one of the two people cited above said.

Queries sent to Reliance Commercial Dealers Ltd, the company that operates and manages jets used by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group, Welspun, and Apco Infratech remained unanswered till press time. A spokesperson for Bajaj Auto declined to comment.

Apollo Hospitals has entered into a timeshare agreement with JetSetGo. “JetSetGo has a time-sharing arrangement with Apollo Hospitals. It is mostly used by promoters to make official visits. Such arrangements are increasingly gaining popularity in India. This makes sense for the user as they get the service of a private jet on demand, and at the same time, they don’t have to handle the task of managing the jet when it is not in use," the second person cited above said.

JetSetGo declined to reveal details on the deal “due to confidentiality agreements with the customers." It added that it has no such arrangement with Apollo Hospitals to manage aircraft.

In India, private jets received a boost during the pandemic. About 70% of the people who flew private jets during covid were new customers as they understood the value of hiring a private jet, Santosh Sharma, founder of Bookmyjet, said.

“And that’s why some of them went ahead and bought private jets. Covid taught us many important lessons; one was utilizing money rather than saving," Sharma said.

“There has been some positive growth in industries such as infrastructure, power etc., and you would see that people who have bought aircraft in the last year belong to these particular industries specifically," he added.

The surge in demand for business jets reversed after the pandemic waned, with many returning to premium segments of commercial flights.

Movement of private jets and helicopters fell 17.1% during the 10 months to January, according to data from the Airports Authority of India. In contrast, there was a 37% increase in the year-ago period. Private jet usage is measured in terms of aircraft movement–one take-off and landing equals two aircraft movements.

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