* GAGAN system could cut fuel costs 20 pct - executive
* Indian carriers struggling under huge fuel costs
By Anurag Kotoky
BANGALORE, Feb 8 U.S. group Raytheon
will roll out a new satellite-based aircraft navigation system
in India this year, a move that could save airlines up to 20
percent in fuel costs.
"To get 20 percent on fuel burn is an enormous opportunity
for airlines. It makes or breaks their business model," William
Blair, president Raytheon Asia, told Reuters on Friday.
High fuel costs and taxes have battered India's airline
industry in recent years, with carriers in what was seen as one
of the world's most promising aviation growth markets struggling
to turn a profit and running up large debts.
India contracted the U.S. defence and aerospace company in
2009 to build an air traffic control system allowing
point-to-point flights instead of aircraft having to fly close
to land-based control towers.
A 20 percent fuel saving is the amount U.S. planemaker
Boeing says its $200 million Dreamliner jets provide
compared to equivalent aircraft.
"There is a business model and a business value for the
airlines, and also for civil aviation and Airports Authority of
India," Blair said in an interview at an airshow.
The system, named GAGAN, uses three satellites and will be
the first to run on Raytheon's new algorithm for equatorial
regions. Blair would not give details of its cost.
India permitted airlines to import jet fuel directly last
year to ease their costs by allowing them to avoid buying fuel
from oil marketing companies.