India’s JetSetGo to expand in smaller cities with private jets

By Rishika Sadam

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) – Indian private aircraft provider JetSetGo is planning to offer more flights connecting smaller cities, as it seeks to cash in on growing demand for travel from a mushrooming class of wealthy individuals beyond the urban centres.

India is the world’s fastest-growing aviation market and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been pushing to build more airports, but there is also heightened demand for private jets as the ultra wealthy spend more.

Indian airport officials, for example, have been scrambling this week to provide parking space for private jets at many airports near the northern city of Ayodhya, where a grand Hindu temple is set to open.

JetSetGo on Friday said it has partnered with makers of smaller jets – Horizon Aircraft, and Overair – to acquire 150 aircraft in a deal valued at $780 million that will provide connectivity to smaller cities in India.

The agreements include an option to acquire additional aircraft for a potential fleet size of 280, raising the overall deal value to more than $1.3 billion.

“The idea of high-net-worth individuals, successful entrepreneurs being only in cities was the case probably a few years ago but that’s changing,” said Jonathan Summer, chief strategy officer at JetSetGo.

“There is good opportunity in smaller regional markets. Most of our flying is in major (Indian) cities and secondary cities but not in the tertiary regional areas.”

JetSetGo expects the first batch of the new aircraft to be delivered by 2027-2028.

In India, private jets have historically been used by top business leaders, politicians or senior executives, but a rising class of affluent Indians with high disposable incomes who want to splurge on luxury travel is becoming a boon for the sector.

Summer said an hourly journey on a mid-sized private jet costs 350,000-500,000 rupees ($4,214-$6,020) in India. That means it stays out of reach of most Indians, even many wealthy individuals.

JetSetGo is aiming to reduce the cost of travel per hour by 10%-15% with the new smaller electric and hybrid-electric propulsion planes, which are air taxi-style services for short distances.

The company is “looking at high-net-worth families who have a lifestyle of travelling in private aircrafts,” Summer said.

($1 = 83.0560 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Rishika Sadam and Bansari Mayur Kamdar; Writing by Tanvi Mehta, editing by Aditya Kalra and Sharon Singleton)