The India Aviation show opens on Wednesday against a backdrop of a general election campaign that will see a new government take office in just over two months on May 16. Many of the trade visitors to the biennial event (March 12-16) held at Hyderabad’s Old Begumpet Airport will be hoping that the election will mark the end of a two-year period of stagnation for India’s aviation sector, in which political inertia has blocked much-needed reform.
A depressed Indian economy and a weakened rupee this year have made attendance for international visitors cost effective, although not for domestic companies that are increasingly cutting costs. In the absence of anticipated airliner orders, business aviation is expected to enjoy a high profile in Hyderabad this week, with several new contracts expected.
“There is change around the corner and we are cautiously optimistic, although we don’t want to be jumping from the roof yet,” said Rohit Kapur, president of India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association, to AIN. However, the Indian business aviation community remains frustrated that the civil aviation ministry has failed to finalize a long-anticipated new general aviation policy, which is languishing at the draft stage. The conference agenda for India Aviation will focus on long-neglected issues such as airport infrastructure, and especially the severe shortage of space and facilities for general aviation.
Business aircraft on display in Hyderabad this week include the following: Beechcraft’s King Air 350ER, C90GTx and a Baron G58, Bombardier’s Challenger 300, Learjet 60 and Global 6000, Dassault’s Falcon 7X and 2000LX, the Embraer Legacy 650, Lineage 1000, and Phenom 300, and Piaggio Aero’s P180 Avanti II.
Over the past six months, Beechcraft has opened a new office in the Indian capital New Delhi under the leadership of newly appointed country director John Williams. It also has appointed Reghu Raman as a field service representative and has named Arrow Aircraft Sales and Charters Private Limited its exclusive sales representative in India.
“India has long been an exciting market for us and we come into this year’s India Aviation show with great momentum having recently made major investments in this fast-growing sector,” said Richard Emery, Beechcraft’s president for the Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. “These investments mean greater local support for new Beechcraft customers and for the sizable installed base of aircraft in India, where we’ve delivered nearly 50 aircraft during the past decade.”
On the eve of the show, Dassault also declared itself to be bullish about sales prospects in India. “We see improving signs of the Indian market, which has been slow recently,” commented Gilles Gautier, vice president for Falcon sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “India has a real need for expanding business aviation and we remain bullish about future market prospects.”