Interview ACASS – Vinit Phatak, President, ACASS India.

‘We expect the next 10 years to be the best yet’

ACASS is a worldwide provider of highly customized support services for business aviation. Since 1994. they have been empowering individuals and organizations to own their journeys with cohesive, best-in-class services and world-class expertise in every corner of the world, with extensive experience in North America. South America, Europe. India, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and China.

Vinit Phatak. President ACASS India, speaks to Neetu Dhulia of’BizAvIndia about their Indian operations and future plans.

BizAvIndia (BAI): You have a diverse entrepreneurial back-ground and a philosophy degree from the University of Pennsylvania. How did you get involved with business aviation?

Vinit Phatak: I think an undergraduate degree is more about fine tuning your fundamental skill set for life than necessarily focusing on a vocation, which is only a subset of life! Philosophy helped me to understand I am someone who enjoys outrageous challenges! Hence the entrepreneurial path leading to the extremely challenging and dynamic arena of business aviation.

BAI: How has the business aviation landscape in India changed since you first became involved with it in 2007?
Phatak: There was tremendous global innovation and growth in and around 2007. The Indian economy also had been growing rapidly with no signs of slowing. This was when we launched an innovative service using four-passenger light jets to connect smaller regions of India for investors, promoters, and bankers. And then the bombs started falling. First, the Indian government increased the customs duty on private aircraft from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent, resulting in a 28 per cent drop in private aircraft imports the following year. Then came the 2008 global financial crisis, which hit
the business aviation industry hard. The 10 years since have been a rollercoaster, but ultimately resulted in a shakeup where only the truly resilient survived. We are just now seeing increased growth and positivity return to the market.

BAI: You partnered with Canada-based business aviation support leader ACASS to start ACASS India in 2017. What drove this collaboration?
Phatak: After having owned, operated, maintained, and chartered our own aircraft, the next logical growth progression was selling and managing aircraft as well. Given the limited number of aircraft transactions in India, we recognized that a global footprint was imperative for sales, so we started seeking out a global partner. After meeting with ACASS, it was clear to me that, after 23 years of hard work and growth, they were in precisely the global position we wanted. Achieving that on our own based out of India would have been impossible. With ACASS, and its presence on all continents, we could instantly be part of a growing successful team.

BAI: What does a 360-degree business aviation company like ACASS bring to the Indian market? 
Phatak: The Indian aviation market is filled with “consultants” who often have limited experience and knowledge and end up making mistakes at their customers’ expense. ACASS is not just a consultant but an actual operator of over 30 aircraft, with its own global sales, in-house legal, maintenance, and operations teams, and hundreds of contracted pilots and engineers. This comprehensive expertise is essential for an emerging market like India.

BAI: How do you see business aviation in India evolving over the next 10 years?
Phatak: We expect the next 10 years to be the best years business aviation in India has seen since pre-2008, with aircraft management driving growth and allowing more first time buyers to jump into aircraft ownership. With the regional connectivity drive by the government, more airports are being activated and upgraded and I believe business aviation will piggyback on these infrastructure developments.

BAI: What do you feel sets you personally and ACASS India apart from the your industry peers in India and across the globe?
Phatak: What sets me and ACASS India apart is the combination of deep, extensive experience in the industry and our personal and corporate
commitment to integrity and the truth. As a philosopher, you learn to value truth over all, so I let this guide me and my team as we take on the challenges of business aviation.

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