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High-flyers want to shed their wings

india Updated: Mar 22, 2009 01:06 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
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Private jet owners are desperate to sell the aircraft they acquired when the economy was booming. But as with other big-ticket luxury products, there are few takers.

As a result, prices of used business jets and choppers have halved in the past two months. A second-hand Bombardier Global Express, the luxury business jet brand Mukesh Ambani bought for his wife Nita two years ago, is now going for between Rs 120 and Rs 160 crore, down from Rs 240 crore, dealers said.

A used Robinson 44, a four-seater chopper, can be had for Rs 1.2 crore, compared to Rs 2.5 crore two months ago. A used Beechjet 400 has a price tag of between Rs 8 and Rs 10 crore, a third of what it was two months ago.

“The slowdown is hitting everyone,” said Captain Sandeep Saraf, director of operations at Pinnacle Air, a Delhi-based dealer. “Jet owners are desperately selling off planes. We have witnessed a price drop of 40 to 50 per cent in two months.”

Vijay Kumar, director of AAA Aviation, which deals in business jets, concurred: “Our jet inventory has nearly doubled, with owners all over the world, especially in the United States, desperate to sell. Prices are so low it is now worth paying in foreign currency for an Australian jet.”

The lull has inevitably broadened buyer profiles. “Jets are no more a Tata-Birla affair,” said Kumar. “Today, even a company worth Rs 10 crore is seeking to purchase choppers.”

A visit to dealers reveals the slump. About 50 charter planes are parked at Airborne Aviation Academy in Mangaon, 150 km south of Mumbai.

“We rarely have such huge stock,” said Akram Baig, the owner. “We’ve been flooded with supplies in the past two months.”

Omkar Mestry, operation head of Airnetz, a private charter company that also deals in jets, is struggling to accommodate planes. “More than a 100 planes have been added to our inventory in the past two months,” he said.