Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2019 Contents AsianAviation | May 2019 15
aircraft sold worldwide including 20 in Asia, Jetcraft Asia president
David Dixon said. But its two orders in China were offset by two
sold from China to other countries. “China’s going through a bit of a
negative at the moment,” Dixon said. Still, he added, “I don’t get too
panicky. You have ups and downs in the world economy.”
The slow year gave some China-focused firms a chance to rethink
or retrench. To make money, some aircraft owners are chartering
their planes, a boon to charter operators. Ground service providers
can ride out the slump by selling preventive aircraft maintenance
and parking spaces, Dolski said.
Some ABACE vendors reported visits from more serious Chinese
buyers than in years past. Market players that jumped in during
China’s fast sales growth may fade or consolidate now because of
the slowdown, analysts at the show said. Those who “play by the
rules” such as fair sharing of scarce China airport slots stand to
prosper as their business relationships solidify, said Sarah Kalmeta,
a member of the 150-member Asian Business Aviation Association
board of governors.
“In the gold rush days, things were very, very buoyant indeed,”
Kalmeta said. The China fleet declined 1 percent last year, she said,
“but if you break that down in terms of individual players, some are
showing 30 percent growth.”
Buyer interest in business jets is expected to resume, especially if
China and the United States reach a deal ending their year-old trade
dispute. The Chinese government has said it wants business aviation
to become a measurable part of its GDP. Its five-year economic plan
through 2020 calls for raising the number of private aircraft to 5,000
from today ’s 2,800 and commercial airports accessible to them from
310 to 500. The number of private jets based in China rose from 299
in 2015 to 339 in 2017 — following a net addition of 31 planes that
year. The government is keen too on developing ground services
for private aviation.
The government’s State Council and Central Military Commission
have gradually relaxed general aviation rules since 2014 to foster pri-
vate flights as well. Beijing’s six-year-old, US$1 trillion Belt-and-Road
initiative, aimed at building trade routes across Eurasia, predicts
more cross-border business travel especially as the government
relaxes rules on cross-border capital flows.
During the show week, Gulfstream agreed to sell a long-range
G650 plane to Chinese metal manufacturer Jiachen Group. Textron
Aviation said its China joint venture, Cessna-AVIC Aircraft (Zhuhai),
had reached deals to sell eight new Cessna Citation XLS jets to the
Chinese aviation authority ’s Flight Inspection Centre. HondaJet found
a Chinese buyer for two of its tiny, short-hop US$5.25 million Elite
aircraft, corporate communication coordinator Kie Nagasawa said.
“ We’re seeing the interest go back up again and we’re very opti-
mistic about what’s going to happen this year,” said Roger Sperry, the
Gulfstream senior regional vice president for international sales. He
called 2018 “reasonable” in China, where Gulfstream has a 60-plus
percent market share.
Trade and GDP aside, China’s airspace restrictions will still limit
interest in private aviation until the rules ease, said Michael Shih,
China business development vice president with Textron Aviation.
Some fixed-based operators for business jets charge more than
needed for ground services, he added.
Runways at newer airports may extend just 1,200 meters, not the
1,800 meters needed for larger business jets, vendors noted, while
the jets often struggle for slots at Chinese airports. Business avia-
tion takes the “lowest priority” in China after cargo and commercial
airlines, Kalmeta said.
ASIAN PLAYERS SET TO JOIN WESTERN GAME
They didn’t have any aircraft to show, but the spec charts at their ABACE
booth generated a stream of would-be buyers. They were checking out
a business jet model being developed by Shanghai-based Commercial
Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC. The state-run firm known for
commercial aircraft such as the C919 will build a private plane that a
publicist described as “high end” and “comfortable.”
COMAC’s 19-metre-long CBJ-model aircraft will become the latest
business jet from an Asian company. Asian firms have solidified over the
past decade as a major market force in in their own part of the world,
challenging the historic lead of Western companies.
“China hasn’t gotten to the level of major nations but it’s moving along
fast,” Xu Teng Zehui, China’s first female co-pilot, said on the exhibition
sidelines. The crew member with Eastern Jet, the business jet operation
subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines, picked her career because she
predicts strong growth in China. “ The general aviation field will need
people,” she said. “It’s an emerging profession and an emerging field.”
More than 40 percent of the show ’s 160 exhibitors are based in Asia,
where their interest is “critical” to the show as well as regional business
aviation, said Dan Hubbard, senior vice president of communications
with event organiser the Washington-based National Business Aviation
Association. That percentage has held since 2012, he said.
“ There’s an Asian representative in every single sector,” said Sarah
Kalmeta, a member of the 150-member Asian Business Aviation
Association board of governors. “It’s right across the board, the OEMs,
the operators, the management companies and the brokers, right through
to service providers.”
Asian companies at the show included the aircraft developer HondaJet,
Chinese aircraft management firm Sino Jet and Saint Royal Aviation, a
15-year-old Beijing-based broker of Chinese airport slots.
Saint Royal’s access to permits is one case of where locals can
use their chief advantage over Western firms: connections. Localised
ties can lead to customers and business partners as well as slots.
HondaJet had little trouble in China, the region’s biggest market,
because Chinese buyers know the underlying name Honda, a publicist
with the firm noted.
“ You’re definitely seeing more Chinese companies in the business
aviation field and part of the reason is the central government’s
push to develop general aviation,” said Michael Shih, China business
development vice president with Textron Aviation. “ With these airports
up and coming, perhaps there’s an opportunity to jump aboard with this
business jet aviation cycle.”
◀ The HondaJet Elite on display at ABACE in Shanghai.
Links Archive AAV April 2019 AAV June 2019 Navigation Previous Page Next Page