GROWING CONSULTING SERVICES - Vrushali Suvarna, Business Development Manager
Asian Sky Group’s latest addition to the team is Vrushali Suvarna, who is taking on the position of Business Development Manager. After almost a decade in the industry, Vrushali has a widerange of knowledge from maintenance to operational, after working in India, the US and Hong Kong. She is now ready to take on her latest role, helping to grow ASG’s consulting services.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you ended up with Asian Sky Group.
My aviation career began in India, when I was at a technical school studying Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, specializing avionics. After graduation in 2009, I worked with the domestic airline GoAir (India) as an avionics technician. I continued my studies and ended up at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Prescott, Arizona, where I received a degree in Aviation Business Administration. During this time, I had the opportunity to intern in Hong Kong with the business jet operator Hongkong Jet. After graduating from Embry Riddle University, I rejoined the Hongkong Jet team as a Senior Projects Executive/Client Relations.
While working with Hongkong Jet, I came across Asian Sky Group while reading one of their quarterly magazines. My interest was piqued with the consulting services offered by the company, which was unique, particularly in Asia.
How has the industry evolved since you started?
When I started out, in 2009, business aviation was a huge market in the US. Over the years, the trend moved and the Asia-Pacific region picked up the pace, specially to China. This region saw a lot of new aircraft deliveries and still is, while the US market remains saturated. Today, the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow and China has remained the largest market.
Since I started out there has been a great development in aircraft systems, specially avionics. Now all business jets are using fly by wire technology, which was initially only used in commercial aircraft. There have been huge investments of maintenance facilities all over Asia to build some state of the art facilities.
What is the most interesting market in the region?
China is obviously a very notable market. It’s one of the biggest countries, in terms of size, population and economic status. Although it continues to grow, it’s facing a lot of challenges in terms of tax regulations and as it is highly regulated, making it difficult to operate foreign registered aircraft.
There’s a lot of potential for countries like the Singapore, Philippines, India and Malaysia. These countries are working on their infrastructure challenges. The governments in these countries are also trying to liberalize laws, regarding permits and operations, so that foreign registered aircraft can operate more freely. Hong Kong is an interesting and rapidly growing market as well. However, the aviation authorities need to collaborate with operators and owners to improvise on the slot situation and expand on the infrastructure.
You began your aviation career in India. What can we expect from business aviation there?
India has a lot of potential, in terms of business aviation. The country’s high net worth population is rapidly increasing, which paves the way for more business aviation activity. Like all other countries in this region, India faces issues with infrastructure. And, like China, operating a business jet or importing/ exporting an aircraft in India is heavily taxed. The governing body in India needs to learn of the potential of the country and work on liberalizing these processes.
What are some of the challenges the industry is facing in this region?
Infrastructure is the main issue. The Asia-Pacific region is one of the fastest growing markets, yet it is not as developed as the US or Europe in terms of infrastructure. It is still in a developing phase and lack resources to support the growing demand of business jets.
Also, given that Asia (particularly in China and India) is highly regulated and heavily-taxed makes its challenging for owners to register an aircraft to that region and obtain financing when taking these factors into consideration. If the process does not become smoother, owners and operators will move away from registrations in these countries and move to countries that are more flexible.
As a woman in aviation, have you come across any difficulties throughout your career?
Starting out my career in India as an aircraft engineer, which is a country that often reinforces gender stereotypes, I was often questioned about my interest in the aviation industry as a woman. However, having a supportive family and being inspired by sister, who worked as a flight attendant for a major carrier was very encouraging. She supported my ambition to pursue my technical and business aviation education.
I have been very fortunate to have been groomed by some of the best women professors at Embry Riddle. When I first moved to Asia I was mentored by Sarah Kalmeta, who now is the Director of APAC—Universal Weather & Aviation and a fellow alumnus at Embry Riddle. When I look around, particularly in Asia, I see some very inspiring women in all facets of the industry, from ground handling companies, operators, OEMs running the show. I am also surrounded with some very talented women at ASG.
I encourage all young women with great potential, especially in India to look at aviation not with a perspective that it is male dominated, but rather that it is an industry that is growing exponentially and now offering several different types of opportunities for women. It’s all about taking the first step toward one’s ambition and the industry is very welcoming and out there to support them.
What’re you hoping to achieve in your new role with Asian Sky Group?
Asian Sky Group has already done a lot in terms of its market reports, its media division, and with sales and acquisitions, so I’m happy to join and help the growing consulting segment.
In the Asia Pacific, a lot of HNWI and companies want to invest in the aviation industry, however lack direction and are unsure where to begin. The consulting side provides a way for individuals and companies to understand and learn all aspects of aviation and potentially consider this industry as a promising investment.
With my background working with an operator and having knowledge on the technical side, I feel I can offer a unique perspective in ASG’s consulting segment. In terms of sales, I look forward to educating clients on the growing trend of pre-owned aircraft with the APAC region as it is a fairly new concept, this side of the region.