Time they say is money, and Indian billionaires don’t have too much of it. With India’s aviation sector booming, the skies are getting crowded, but it’s the private jet owners who are feeling the heat. Getting the permission to take off in their private jets takes up to four days, while a modification to the request takes up to two days. That’s a lot of man-hours lost and crucial decisions delayed.
Business Aircraft Operators Association, which represents a large chunk of private aircraft owners and operators in India, is now lobbying with the government to turn an airport 137 km outside of Mumbai into India’s first airfield exclusively meant for private jets. This is because Mumbai airports is so busy, the landing and takeoff of private jets is not allowed from 8 to 10 am in the morning and 5 to 7.30 pm in the evening. While an airline like Indigo recently ordered 250 Airbus A320 neo jets, India currently only has about 125 small business jets. This number is expected to grow to 1,320 by 2033. But according to industry reports, the infrastructure growth hasn’t kept pace. Hence the need for more airfields earmarked for private jets alone. With a large number of airports too small for commercial jets this might just be possible.
India is the fastest-growing major economy along with China, and according to Cap Gemini SA and Royal Bank of Canada the wealth of its high net worth individuals expanded at the quickest pace in the world last year to $785 billion. That provides plenty of ammunition for plane purchases. The nation of 1.27 billion also has the seventh-biggest land area, with hundreds of airports that are too small for commercial airliners. Business jets can also be used as air ambulances, and are able to fly to remote areas. Overall air travel is also growing, in part because of base fares sometimes as low as 2 cents on commercial carriers. Indian airlines need 1,740 new planes over the next 20 years valued at $240 billion, according to Boeing Co. The average net worth of a private jet user is about nine times greater than a passenger flying first class in commercial carriers. Allowing the rich to travel more easily encourages them to invest and create jobs.
In Mumbai, a lack of space at the main airport forces small aircraft planning stops of more than 48 hours to park hundreds of miles away after dropping off their passengers, according to the Business Aircraft Operators Association. Whether the government will move quickly to help the country's wealthiest fly more easily is an open question, given the pressure to focus instead on helping the more than 750 million Indians living on less than $2 per day.