Mumbai, India-based aircraft management and charter company Invision Air last week launched a joint venture with Canadian business aviation services group ACASS. Montreal-based ACASS's services include sourcing flight crew, providing regulatory and management support and handling aircraft sales, as well as delivering and preparing them for entry into service. CEO Andre Khury told AIN that despite slower-than-anticipated growth in the Indian business aviation sector, he believes that the new venture will allow ACASS to capitalize on opportunities in a potentially huge marketplace. ACASS holds the majority stake in the new ACASS India company.
Sourcing qualified flight crew and support personnel is a particular challenge in India. ACASS believes it can alleviate this situation by drawing on a database of approximately 17,000 pilots and mechanics.
“We’ve been here through thick and thin, and we’re here to stay,” Khury told AIN. “I’m perhaps myopic in my vision. I have faith that India as a whole will still have steady growth. With Invision’s boots on ground, their real experience will allow us greater continuity. It was a milestone decision for us.”
Invision managing director Vinit Pathak is serving as president of ACASS India. “ACASS’s know-how with our experience in operations and maintenance brings a compelling proposition to the market,” he commented. “We wanted to augment our experience with international capability. We will be looking at different revenue streams and more growth in transactions and services.”
Khury and his new partners acknowledged that India remains a frustrating environment for business aviation, which continues to suffer from the perception that it is an elitist mode of transportation. “One element that has always been very challenging for us and anybody in the industry is that India is very bureaucratic and things can take a long time,” said Khury.
More specifically, India requires foreign aircrew to take an exam on local regulations when seeking temporary authorization to fly Indian-registered aircraft, and that process can take months. India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association continues to press for reform, but Khury expressed disappointment that the government had not used the recent federal budget approval process to rationalize regulatory processes.
Broadly speaking, growth in India’s business aviation sector started slowing down beginning 2009. However, Khury said that the market is relatively mature by Asian standards, but that ACASS is now seeing stronger growth in Southeast Asia.