Service Group ACASS Launches Indian JV With Invision

February 13, 2017, 1:49 PM

Invision Air - ACASS India featured on AIN News
Article on AIN online about ACASS launching Indian JV with Invision

Mumbai, India-based aircraft management and charter company Invision Air last week launched a joint venture with Canadian business aviation services group ACASS. Montreal-based ACASS’s services include sourcing flight crew, providing regulatory and management support and handling aircraft sales, as well as delivering and preparing them for entry into service. CEO Andre Khury told AIN that despite slower-than-anticipated growth in the Indian business aviation sector, he believes that the new venture will allow ACASS to capitalize on opportunities in a potentially huge marketplace. ACASS holds the majority stake in the new ACASS India company.

Sourcing qualified flight crew and support personnel is a particular challenge in India. ACASS believes it can alleviate this situation by drawing on a database of approximately 17,000 pilots and mechanics.

“We’ve been here through thick and thin, and we’re here to stay,” Khury told AIN. “I’m perhaps myopic in my vision. I have faith that India as a whole will still have steady growth. With Invision’s boots on ground, their real experience will allow us greater continuity. It was a milestone decision for us.”

Invision managing director Vinit Pathak is serving as president of ACASS India. “ACASS’s know-how with our experience in operations and maintenance brings a compelling proposition to the market,” he commented. “We wanted to augment our experience with international capability. We will be looking at different revenue streams and more growth in transactions and services.”

Khury and his new partners acknowledged that India remains a frustrating environment for business aviation, which continues to suffer from the perception that it is an elitist mode of transportation. “One element that has always been very challenging for us and anybody in the industry is that India is very bureaucratic and things can take a long time,” said Khury.

More specifically, India requires foreign aircrew to take an exam on local regulations when seeking temporary authorization to fly Indian-registered aircraft, and that process can take months. India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association continues to press for reform, but Khury expressed disappointment that the government had not used the recent federal budget approval process to rationalize regulatory processes.

Broadly speaking, growth in India’s business aviation sector started slowing down beginning 2009. However, Khury said that the market is relatively mature by Asian standards, but that ACASS is now seeing stronger growth in Southeast Asia.

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India’s Invision Defers Phenoms as Business Plan Changes

June 4, 2014, 3:55 AM

2014-06-04- Aviation International News Online - 01India’s Invision Air has abandoned plans to build a wholly owned fleet of Embraer Phenoms, switching its business model to one based largely on aircraft management and a plan to provide flights connecting smaller cities within the state of Maharashta.

The Mumbai-based group has shelved plans to buy six Phenom 300s and six of the smaller Phenom 100s. After a deal signed in 2007, it had held options for a total of 18 Phenoms, but Invision managing director Vinit Pathak told AIN that these are now “deferred and in abeyance,” adding that Embraer understands the economic pressures that have forced the change of plan and has been “very flexible.”

Invision is evaluating aircraft for the new services it intends to operate within the state of Maharashtra in the west of India. It wants to use two or three 19-seat twin turboprops and expects to choose the aircraft type in November.

Maharashtra is one of several Indian states offering subsidies to operators willing to provide service between towns that are not well served by scheduled airline flights. But Invision does not want its route choices to be constrained by the terms of any subsidies. “We are doing our own analysis on city pairs we will link in Maharashtra,” explained Pathak. “Our non-scheduled [charter] flights will be market driven.”

India’s aviation regulations do not permit non-scheduled [charter] carriers to publish flight schedules, although effectively these operators can sell individual seats on the aircraft and contrive for passengers to depart at the same time. Invision will also offer the aircraft for whole-airplane ad hoc charter.

Invision is looking to base these operations at Nashik, which is about a 25-minute flight from Mumbai. The city’s airport is owned by government-controlled aerospace and defense group Hindustan Aeronautics. Invision already has a maintenance operation there and is now in talks with HAL with a view to expanding the facility as a base for charter operations.

At the same time, Invision is shifting its business model to one based on aircraft management. It has forged an informal alliance with 14 operators controlling 17 business aircraft that will also be available for charter by third parties under the auspices of Invision. The aircraft range in cabin size from four to 17 passengers. The company will continue to operate the two Phenoms it has already received from Embraer.

Invision will offer customers a jet card membership option for using these managed aircraft. They will be able to pre-purchases blocks of 25, 50 or 100 flight hours that are valid for 12 months.

According to Pathak, aggressive pricing that has seen flight-hour rates offered at below cost is making the executive and private charter business in India unsustainable. The country’s Business Aviation Operators Association has complained that excessive bureaucracy, inadequate regulations and an unfavorable tax environment are combining to stifle the industry’s growth.

“[The charter business in India] is not about pure commercial competition,” said Pathak. “Owners who have airplanes sitting are willing to charter them out at any cost and brokers push the price [down]. This is one reason why nobody wants to get into the charter business here.”

However, he believes the situation is improving as clients become more aware of the added value business aviation can bring. “We encourage clients first to use the 25-hour card. Once they graduate to 300 hours, we advise them on the airplane they should buy,” he said. Invision expected to announce its first direct aircraft management deal last month, likely involving an eight-passenger jet.

“The only way to survive in this business is innovation and change,” concluded Pathak. “What was a good plan in 2007 is no longer good. We will remain in the business because of its potential and hope demand will happen in time.”

India’s Invision Defers Phenom 100/300s as Plan Changes

April 17, 2014, 10:38 AM

2014-04-17- Aviation International News Online - 02India’s Invision Air has abandoned plans to build a wholly owned fleet of Embraer Phenom light jets, switching its business model to one based largely on aircraft management and a scheme to provide flights connecting smaller cities within the state of Maharashta. The Mumbai-based group originally intended to buy six Phenom 300s and six Phenom 100s.

Under a deal signed in 2007, Invision held options for 18 Phenoms. But these are now “deferred and in abeyance,” according to Invision managing director Vinit Pathak, who added that Embraer understands the economic pressures that have forced the change of plan. He also told AIN that the manufacturer has been “very flexible.”

Invision is now evaluating other aircraft for the new services it intends to operate within the state of Maharashtra in the west of India. It intends to use 19-seat twin turboprops and expects to make its fleet decision in November, with plans to buy two or three aircraft for these operations.

India’s aviation regulations do not permit non-scheduled charter operators to publish flight schedules, although effectively they can sell individual seats on the aircraft and contrive for passengers to depart at the same time. Invision will also offer the aircraft for ad hoc charter.

Invision Air Ramps Up Phenom Fleet

May 15, 2012, 1:30 PM

2014-06-04- Aviation International News Online - Invision Air ramps up Phenom FleetMumbai-based charter start-up Invision Air, which has started to take delivery of 12 Phenom 100s and 300s it ordered from Brazil’s Embraer, has launched its Jet Card membership program, one of the first such offerings in India. While the program offers flexibility and a price advantage to regular fliers, it will benefit owners of private aircraft while their own aircraft undergo maintenance, according to company co-founder Vinit Phatak.

“Using a Jet Card provides all the primary benefits of owning a jet. We have structured our programs at a price point similar to a 3-series BMW/C-Class Mercedes, 5-series BMW/E-Class Mercedes and a 7-series BMW/S-Class Mercedes, so if you can afford to buy one of these cars, you can afford to fly a private jet,” said Phatak.

Invision currently has two operational Phenom 100s in its fleet. Of the six Phenoms 300s on order, the first is due to enter into service in late 2012. Phatak said that in the future he would consider the Legacy 500 and 600 models, as commonality is a big consideration in his business model.

The certification of the Legacy 650 earlier this year in India makes all of Embraer’s executive jets eligible to fly there. Reaction to the Legacy 650 in India has been positive following its display at the India Aviation Show this year, Jose Costas, vice president, marketing and sales, Embraer Executive Jets, Asia Pacific, told AIN. “As such, the Legacy 650 is not expected to replace any current model but presents our clients and prospects [the Indian market] with greater options in terms of aircraft range,” he added.

India’s Invision Air Launches Jet-card Membership Program

May 14, 2012, 1:20 PM

2014-06-04- Aviation International News Online - Invision Air launches jet-card membership programMumbai-based charter start-up Invision Air, which has started to take delivery of 12 Embraer Phenom 100s and 300s, has launched its Jet Card membership program, one of the first such schemes in India. While the program offers flexibility and a price advantage to regular flyers, it will benefit owners of private aircraft while their own aircraft undergo maintenance. Invision presently has two operational Phenom 100s in its fleet, and it expects to be flying its first Phenom 300 by year-end.

Invision Jump-starts Indian Charter Network with Light Jets

May 5, 2012, 5:51 AM

2014-06-04- Aviation International News Online - Invision Jump-starts Indian charter network with Light jetsInvision Air is seeking to bring economies of scale to kick-start India’s executive charter sector. For the most part, the industry consists of small operators with no more than two or three aircraft each. But the Mumbai-based start-up has a 12-aircraft order with Embraer for a mix of Phenom 100 and 300 light jets.

Last year, Invision tested the market with two Phenom 100s and the results were sufficiently encouraging for it to take the next step. However, it did adjust its original order from 18 of the four-passenger Phenom 100s and two of the eight-passenger Phenom 300s to just six of each type.

“We want to [offer] the entry-level segment [a price of] $3,000 an hour [rather than] the present $4,500,” Invision cofounder and managing director Vinit Phatak told AIN. “We expect this segment to gradually move up as the market increases. Also, as a startup, [buying small jets requires less] initial capital.”

For Phatak, whose Invision group has been successful in both telecommunications and safety products, the Phenom was a natural choice. “It is practical luxury, not ostentatious,” he noted. “The aircraft is not a bedroom but a meeting room in the sky. There is growth in rural areas as real estate explodes with wealth opportunities. Phenom 100s can land there.”

Looking to future plans for Invision to offer service outside India, Phatak is already eyeing the larger Legacy 500 and 650 for fleet development. Commonality across the Embraer product range is a big factor in his business model.

In addition to standard charters, Invision will offer 25-hour jet card membership. Planned for the future is a package through which customers will purchase whole aircraft and then lease them back to Invision. Phatak maintains that fractional ownership is not a practical option in India due to the country’s complex tax and import rules.

Standard hourly rates for the Phenom 100s are around $3,000 (plus expenses and taxes), but this will be reduced for jet card clients. Invision anticipates that hourly rates for the larger Phenom 300s will be around $5,000.

Support for the Invision fleet has been arranged through Indian service centers Air Works and Indamar. The work is being organized through task-based agreements, with the operator having the option to go to either provider depending on which is the most convenient option at any given time.

For now Invision has three Phenom 100s, based at Delhi, Mumbai and Nashik. Phatak sees a lot of charter growth coming from second- and third-tier cities that do not have good airline service. Nashik, which he describes as India’s answer to California’s Napa Valley wine region, is both a business and tourism center and yet, like many smaller cities, can be reached only via inconvenient airline connections through distant hub airports.

At the same time, the new operator also sees potential demand from larger cities where airlines are cutting business-class service in favor of low-fare services. Phatak told AIN that he is talking to airlines about the possibility of providing onward domestic service for their first-class passengers arriving on international flights.

Invision will select three more bases from among Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai by year-end. The operator currently employs five pilots and expects to add five more by the end of this year.

Phatak told AIN that sourcing flight crew was quite a challenge at the start-up phase of the business since there were no pilots type-rated on the Phenoms in India. “We had to find suitably experienced pilots on other aircraft and get them trained or type rated,” he explained. “We also had to provide them with sufficient actual flying time on the new aircraft, which was costly and time consuming.”

Invision Air Seeks To Kick-start India’s Executive Charter Sector

March 28, 2012, 1:05 AM

2014-06-04- Aviation International News Online - Invision Air seeks to Kick start India's Executive charter SectorInvision Air is seeking to bring economies of scale to kick-start India’s executive charter sector. For the most part, the industry consists of small operators with no more than two or three aircraft each. But the Mumbai-based startup has placed an order with Embraer for 12 aircraft, a mix of Phenom 100 and 300 light jets.

Last year, Invision tested the market with two Phenom 100s and the results were sufficiently encouraging for it to take the next step. However, it did reduce its original order from 18 of the four-passenger Phenom 100s and two of the eight-passenger Phenom 300s to just six of each type.

“We want to address the entry-level segment paying $3,000 an hour as against the present $4,500,” Invision cofounder and managing director Vinit Pathak told AIN. “We expect this segment to gradually move up as the market increases. Also, as a startup, the initial capital cost is less.”

For Pathak, whose Invision group has been successful in both telecommunications and safety products, the Phenom was a natural choice. “It is practical luxury, not ostentatious,” he commented. “The aircraft is not a bedroom but a meeting room in the sky. There is a growth in rural areas as real estate explodes with wealth opportunities. Phenom 100s can land there.”

Looking to future plans for Invision to offer service outside India, Pathak is already eyeing the larger Legacy 500 and 600 models for fleet development. Commonality across the Embraer product range is a big factor in invision_vinit-phatak_phenom100_webhis business model.

In addition to standard charters, Invision will offer jet card membership (through which clients by blocks of 25 flight hours). Planned for the future is a package through which customers will purchase whole aircraft and then lease them back to Invision. Phathak maintained that fractional ownership is not a practical option in India due to its complex tax and import rules.

Standard hourly rates for the Phenom 100s are around $3,000 (plus expenses and taxes), but this will be reduced for jet card clients. Invision anticipates that hourly rates for the larger Phenom 300s will be around $5,000.

Support for the Invision fleet has been arranged through two Indian service centers, Air Works and Indamar. The work is being organized through task-based agreements, with the operator having the option to go to either provider depending on which is the most convenient option at any given time.

For now Invision has three Phenom 100s, based at Delhi, Mumbai and Nashik. Pathak sees a lot of charter growth coming from second- and third-tier cities that do not have good airline service. Nashik, which he described as India’s answer to California’s Napa Valley wine region, is both a business and tourism center and yet, like many smaller cities, can be reached only via inconvenient airline connections through distant hub airports.

At the same time, the new operator also sees potential demand from larger cities where airlines are cutting business-class service in favor of low-fare services. Pathak told AIN that he is talking to airlines about the possibility of providing onward domestic service for their first-class passengers arriving on international flights.

By the end of 2012, Invision will select three more bases from cities, including Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Jaipur, Bangalore and Chennai. The operator currently employs five pilots and expects to add five more by the end of this year.

Pathak told AIN that sourcing flight crew was quite a challenge at the start-up phase of the business since there were no pilots type-rated on the Phenoms in India. “We had to find suitably experienced pilots on other aircraft and get them trained or type rated,” he explained. “We also had to provide them with sufficient actual flying time on the new aircraft, which was costly and time consuming.”