THE year 2012 seems to bring a mixed bag for the aviation industry in India. Let’s start with the good news first: on the last day of 2011 the Indian Government declared that Dassault’s Rafale as the preferred bidder for Indian Air force’s requirement for the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) ending the decade long wait. The most notable feature of the exercise is that the tendering process, which is indefinitely complex, elaborate and stringent, has been conducted with complete transparency. More importantly, the selection has not been influenced by political considerations or diplomatic pressures.
Very shortly the price negotiations are to begin. This process is expected to be a protracted one as both sides will want to strike the best deal for themselves — the Indian Government will want the best price and extract the best value for the money from the vendor. The other thing which is complicated is the negotiations for 50 per cent offset clause fulfilment by the vendor. And then comes the choice of armament to be fitted with selection of Indian components to it. The entire process before the striking the ‘Ts’ and dotting the ‘Is’ will take at least a couple of years before both sides can finally sign this contract. However, much the delay, one thing is for sure that the IAF will get the much needed MMRCA. But when is the big question.
Moving on, the aviation pundits say, the growth regions for aviation around the globe are India and China. Everywhere else there is a negative or declining growth, except for the Middle East, which is still booming.
The commercial airline industry is also witnessing a mixed-bag of luck. The Government-owned, Air India is perennially asking for a dole from its owners. The airline is in millions of dollars loss and has not been able to even pay salaries and incentives to its staffs for several months. The Government is promising to give Air India money from time to time to tide over this situation. Financiers of its aircraft deal are now shying away and it is a game of wait and watch. Similar is the situation with Kingfisher Airlines. The King of Good Times is really seeing bad times. Salaries and incentives have not been paid to its employees for quite some time, the lessors of their aircraft are reposing them rapidly, oil companies and airport operators have put the airline on a cash and carry mode as bank guarantees have failed. It is to be seen if this airline survives this turmoil. Jet Airways, generally a stable operation is also plagued with funds crunch and have faltered on payments to its employees and may declare a loss for the last quarter 2011, it seems. The only other airlines who are not in the news for wrong reasons are GoAir, SpiceJet and IndiGo. The last two are even either inducting new capacity or placing orders for new aircraft.
India Aviation 2012 is round the corner. This civil aviation air show is in its third edition. The Hyderabad-based air show has grown from its humble beginning six years ago. It has attracted participation from most of the international players in the area of commercial and general aviation.
Apart from participants from India and elsewhere, the USA, the UK and France are Focus and Partner Countries. Russia, Canada, Switzerland and many other countries are showcasing their aviation industry expertise at the India Aviation. The star attraction of the show will surely be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will be on display on the first three business days. Airbus is flying in the Airbus A318 based ACJ and Dassault is exhibiting its newest corporate jet, the Falcon 2000S. There will be several aircraft/helicopters on both static and flying display at the show giving prospective customers a first-hand feel.