Empire Aviation Group, a Dubai-based private aviation specialist and operator of one of West Asia’s largest managed fleets of business jets, has announced plans to extend its reach into India, though the initial focus will be on aircraft sales and management. The branch office, to be opened in the country’s financial capital Mumbai, soon, will be EAG’s first operation outside Dubai and is likely to offer the company’s full range of services in the subcontinent.

Executive Director Paras Dhamecha tells Aviation Week that it is the right time to enter the Indian aviation market, as business jet registration in India has risen strongly during recent years and there is a growing interest in the sector.

“Market reports suggest there are almost 140 private jets currently based in the market, covering all the major manufacturers. The market opportunity is especially attractive for our aircraft management services, in which we take owners’ aircraft onto our mixed fleet and manage, operate and charter them on behalf of the owner,” Dhamecha says.

He says there is also good potential for new and pre-owned aircraft sales in the South Asian market which is clearly recognizing the benefits of private aviation.

“There has been an upswing in the executive charter market and also substantial increase in jet charters for business clients flying into emerging markets such as Iraq and Afghanistan,” he adds.

Formed in 2007, EAG manages one of the region’s largest fleet of business jets, with more than 20 aircraft under management currently operating out of Dubai International Airport. The company offers private jet sales, management, charter and finance. The expansion into India comes as the Middle East market shows increased confidence and activity where the company recently added two Falcon 7Xs to its existing fleet with a third set to join soon. The Falcon 7X offers 15-30% greater fuel efficiency than other aircraft in the large cabin, long-range class.

The company says it decided to kick start its first operation outside Dubai after understanding the Indian market for many years based on its objectives to expand into a region that was both geographically accessible and presented a strong opportunity for growth.

The Indian aviation market is growing rapidly as 136 private jets were registered in the country in mid-March, which represents a 46% growth rate over 36 months.

“Our clear aim in India is to emulate the success we have achieved in the Middle East,” Dhamecha says.

The company will be looking for potential partnerships in India as they will be important to build its presence and business in the market longer term and “could eventually include brokers, operators, owners and manufacturers, financial service providers and insurers. However, our clear initial focus is aircraft management for owners.”

“The business model will continue to support aircraft owners in achieving their financial and travel objectives and hence we are confident about the future prospects for the industry in the region,” adds Dhamecha.