This is the Time to Harness BizAv Interest

Flying private has emerged as the right option to optimally balance the time and visit as well as return from a place according to one’s own requirement

Issue: BizAvIndia 3/2021By Ayushee Chaudhary Photo(s): By VijayRupaniBJP/Twitter, GMR Airports, Himalayan Heli Services, Pawan Hans
New Areas such as seaplanes have generated a lot of interest and the Government is creating a conductive environment for growth on this count

India’s geographical location and the opportunities that come with it has been an area of global interest. The potential that the geographical dimensions offer are certainly considerable and come with a lot of scope for the aviation industry as the location makes for significant trade and tourism opportunities.

Business aviation has been the talk of the season globally as it appeared to have had shares of benefits after the pandemic. According to WingX Advance, August 2021 delivered the predicted record rebound in business aviation demand. Business jet activity so far this year is still on course to eclipse the global flight activity recorded in 2019, which was the year when the market finally surpassed record activity levels back in 2008. Business jets have flown just under 2.9 million sectors in 2021 through August, three per cent more than in the same period 2019, up by 70 per cent compared to last year, the company noted. Scheduled traffic had started to recover more quickly, with flights in May 2021 up almost three times compared to May 2020. Additionally, combining scheduled, cargo and business jet flight activity, Asia was the only region ahead of 2020 trends that time. India also saw higher levels of business jet activity than in 2019.


Business aviation has garnered limelight after the pandemic. People no longer look at private aviation being just for the elite but also for those who prioritise safety, want to avoid crowd, wish for efficient results in their business, prefer flexibility and value their time as an asset.

In a much awaited and significant move last year, India’s first General Aviation Terminal was inaugurated at Delhi Airport on Thursday, September 17, 2020. The terminal can cater to 150 private movements daily and handle over 50 passengers every hour. The facility consists of 70 plus aircraft parking bays, two aircraft hangars and two fixed-base operators (FBOs).

Leisure travel too witnessed a surge this year compared to last year as more and more vaccinations were given and people began to step out for “workstations”. This trend is likely to go up as the work culture is expected to stay largely hybrid going ahead.

Even though international trips for businessmen or travel are not expected to be back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, more and more people are exploring opportunities and destinations in the domestic market. While there are many private operators already present in the Indian market, new players have emerged since last year. Star Air which is majorly a regional airlines, also started charter services amidst the pandemic, striking at the need of the hour.

Regional connectivity has also significantly allowed the industry to boom. More than half of the planes in the Indian business aviation industry are turboprops and smaller planes connecting regional and remote airports, Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) President, Sudhir Nayak had also highlighted. More routes are being added in the domestic market. AGS Allianz noted that over 1,400 new air routes are scheduled for 2021 – more than double those added in 2016 – driven by Europe (over 600) and Asia Pacific (over 500), with regional airports set to be the main beneficiaries.

(Left) India’s first General Aviation terminal facility for Private Jets;
(Right) New areas such as low-cost helicopter taxi has generated a lot of interest

New routes and services, like seaplanes, are also being added. These new areas such as seaplanes and low-cost helicopter taxi has generated lot of interest. Government of India is already creating a conductive environment for growth on this count by building water aerodromes as well as multiple helipads along the new expressways, Nayak shared. In a step to develop seaplane services in India, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between two ministries of the Government of India on June 15, 2021.

The commercialisation of Dham yatras (pilgrimages) by many private operators have also been an area of expansion and interest among the people.

Use of private aircraft for humanitarian causes also boosted and highlighted the importance of the business aviation industry. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India had given out an order dated May 24, 2020, permitting international charter operations and operations by private aircraft to bring back stranded Indian nationals to India which gave the BizAv industry the opportunity they needed. In order to facilitate the movement of stranded Indian nationals and certain OCI Card holders, a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for Private aircraft and Charter operations on international sectors in view of COVID-19 pandemic was also prepared by the Ministry through a letter issued to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Flying private has emerged as the right option to optimally balance the time and visit as well as return from a place according to one’s own requirement. Despite this, compared on a global level, India is yet far from harnessing its potential in the business aviation industry. While the authorities have taken certain significant steps in the recent past and awareness has also increased, there are still concerns that need to be addressed swiftly. The Indian Government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), UDAN has the potential to connect more of India’s population via air transport but here again the recognition that business aviation is a key tool to enhance business productivity is necessary.

The high operational cost, challenges in ease of doing business, complications with the tax structures, inadequate infrastructure and complicated processes to obtain operating licenses have resulted in subdued growth of the business aviation market.


The policies need to be regulated in a more optimum manner. For instance the recently notified Drone Rules 2021 have reduced certain approvals, forms, and fees and also brought in security relaxations which comes as an encouragement for the industry. The business aviation industry in India also needs a regulated and unified framework that motivates operators to become a part of the industry with the ease of doing business. An enhancement for training facilities as well as more use of global standards is a must too.

Insufficient infrastructure for business & general aviation (BA/GA) has long been a major deterrent for the sector in India. It is of utmost importance that the needs of the industry are incorporated into the planning process for existing as well as the new airports that will come in future. Nayak underlined the need for modernisation of ATCs (Air Traffic Controllers) and to have separate area for GA/BA aircraft parking, hangarage, etc.


Nayak underlined that the use of multiple heliports in large cities and allowing use of rooftop helipads can set this untapped helicopter taxi industry to boom. Group Captain R.K. Bali (Retd), Managing Director, BAOA, had earlier remarked, “The UDAN case so far has been based on 30-40-seater aircraft. Ours are 6-to-20 seaters. The 4th phase of UDAN is expected to have a helicopter element for connectivity to remote hill areas. Here, we will have a big role to play. We have over 10 helicopter operators amongst our members. This should be a good utility to the public.”

The 4th phase of UDAN is expected to have a helicopter element for connectivity to remote hill areas

The highly anticipated GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-city) is garnering IFSC support to the aircraft leasing industry that will provide the necessary capital source for this industry to grow with inbuilt tax incentives/concessions, added the BAOA president. The jet charter company, JetSetGo recently became the first Indian aircraft leasing company. The company’s aircraft leasing unit is expected to start operating from GIFT City next month bringing in a Hawker 850. JetSetGo witnessed a multifold increase in booking request since the pandemic.

As the awareness around the BA/GA industry is increasing right now, this is the time to hit the nail and expand people’s knowledge about the industry, tap into the opportunity and let more and more people enter the industry as passengers, customers, operators, owners, etc. Across the world many new owners as well as fractional owners have emerged and this can be utilised for the industry’s growth and also the economy of the country. Pre-COVID-19 business travel traffic amounted to $1.5 trillion a year or around 1.7 per cent of global GDP, according to AGCS Allianz. While the industry navigates to replenish, it can equally refuel the economy in a great way especially after such pandemic sides.