He says one of the problems is that when the government awarded the contracts for construction of the new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad, the developers made it contingent upon no other airport being developed within 150 km (93 mi.) of the new facilities. The developers argued that there is no way they are going to invest millions developing a new airport if a competing facility is allowed in the area.
The other issue is that commercial passenger traffic is growing so fast that some of the busiest airports—such as Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International—are subject to slot constraints, which are being imposed on the business jet operators. Sometimes up to 48-hr. notice is required to obtain a slot. But this defeats the whole purpose of business aviation—being able to fly whenever and wherever you like on demand.
Mumbai is India's main business center. But if the movers and shakers are unable to secure parking spots, they will be less likely to purchase business aircraft. There also appears to be no ready solution to the parking problem because the airport is land-constrained.
At the new airports too, there may be little in the way of dedicated facilities for business jet operators. Often business jet passengers have to go through the same terminal building and the same customs, quarantine and immigration desks as commercial passengers.
There are also only two fixed-based operators (FBOs) in India serving business aviation, at the airports in New Delhi and Mumbai. This is a very different situation than in the U.S., where business jet operators often have a choice of FBOs at each airport. In the U.S., FBOs make money from the sale of fuel, but in India they are denied that concession. Also in the U.S., a third-party company is in charge of the FBO, but in India the airport operator owns the FBO business as well, so there is no incentive to allow competition.
Generally speaking, the root of the problem is that India's civil aviation ministry is focused on commercial aviation because what happens with the airlines affects a larger number of people. But business aviation can have a big economic impact as well. “If the captains of industry are unable to function properly and make efficient use of their time, then it will impact on prospects for India's businesses and economy,” says one local business jet operator, summing up the mood in the industry.
If progress is not made in addressing these issues, Indian business people will continue to fly. But they will be flying overseas and taking their investment dollars with them.