Eying a shrinking number of non-scheduled operators in India, start-up Prince Air is hoping to build an alternative private jet service based on a subscription model that the company’s founder believes will dramatically reduce cost and prices. India’s economic slowdown left the business aviation industry with 99 non-scheduled operators (NSOPs) last September, down from 130 in 2018, and more are expected to shut down.
However, founder Sanket Singh said Prince Air’s subscription model gives predictive revenue, which he believes will enable the operation to fly members at a fraction of the cost and make the private jet experience accessible to a wider audience than private charters. “We are a good fit between private and commercial jets," he said. "We provide efficiency and speed to our customers. Members will be able to skip airport security lines and get VIP access during check-ins and boarding.”
Already, Singh said the response for the service has been strong, particularly from CEOs, doctors, tourists, and executives who travel at least a few times a week. “The luxury real estate business is booming. Builders are offering our subscription free with homes. We already have 200 inquiries and have to freeze them at the moment.”
A private jet in India costs around $4,600 per hour, making a Delhi-Mumbai return around $18,500. Singh told AIN: “To fly with Prince Air four times on Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi, it would just be 5 percent or less of the present charter costs. We are bringing down the cost by 90 percent to 95 percent.”
Subscriptions can determine how much revenue will be generated at the start of the month. This enables the operator to plan efficiently. Prince Air plans to offer six-eight frequencies a day between Mumbai-Delhi and Bengaluru. It plans to induct six Bombardier Challenger 850s, based on the 50-seat CRJ200LR. Capable of accommodating 15 to 19 passengers, the Challenger 850 has a transcontinental range and a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.80.
Plans are in place but investors are cautious, said Singh. “India is not a favored [investor] destination for this business worldwide. Interference from government, privatization of airports that could jack prices, and high landing fees are major challenges.”
Singh is unwilling to talk of his “U.S.-based partner who will handle operations in India,” or his potential investors. Singh is looking at tapping around $20 million. He said he hopes to start the service by December.