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Chinese economy inspires recovery in business aviation segment

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-05-07 10:40
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner painted with a picture of Kung Fu Panda is pictured at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu city, Southwest China's Sichuan province, March 15, 2017. [Photo/IC]

China has been seeing signs of recovery in its business aviation segment with global players gearing up to boost their presence in the market.

"More frequent business activities stimulate the buying of business aircraft or using charter services thanks to the country's economic growth," said Jenny Lau, chairperson of the Asian Business Aviation Association, which is known as AsBAA.

"A more healthy and rational development in China's business aviation is on track following multiple years of slowing growth since 2013 after the previous round of market expansion," Lau said.

She made the remarks at the 2018 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition, called ABACE, the largest annual business aviation expo in Asia, which ran from April 17 to 19 in Shanghai.

ABACE-2018 attracted 170 exhibitors, including almost all the world's major manufacturers of business aircraft with 30 of their flagship models.

Related companies also participate to seek business opportunities from the high-value industrial chain such as systems supply, maintenance, leasing and chartering.

Last year, China was home to 330 jet and 250 turboprop business aircraft. They are supporting business travel, law enforcement, and humanitarian needs, according to AsBAA.

A recent survey showed 61 percent of industry insiders noted aircraft utilization had increased; it also showed a 42-percent increase in the measure since the fourth quarter of 2015.

To global leading manufacturer Gulfstream, the Asia-Pacific continues to be its largest market, said Scott Neal, its senior vice-president for worldwide sales.

In China, Gulfstream's fleet has grown almost 70 percent since 2013, and 197 aircraft are in service in China.

"While the frenetic pace of activity we've seen over the past several years has tempered, we're seeing initial signs of potential uptick in activity," said Neal.

Deliveries continued with its fleet in the region growing by almost 6 percent in 2017.

"We see a market evolution in China's business aviation and forecast a positive outlook for its continuous growth," said Andy Gill, senior director of business and general aviation in Asia-Pacific for Honeywell Aerospace.

"Surveys indicate that Chinese customers show stronger brand preference. Aircraft with big cabins and long range remain the mainstream of sales, while more medium and light business aircraft are coming to the market for private owners and charter companies," Gill said.

Boeing Business Jet is also seeing more demand for ultra-large business jets as Chinese operators travel with larger teams and travel farther, said Gregory E. Laxton, president of BBJ.

Thirty BBJ aircraft operated in China and the company was confident in the market's future. "We believe that the Chinese economy will continue to grow and prosper," said Laxton.

Japan's Honda Aircraft Company brought the Honda-Jet, a light business jet to ABACE-2018, to tap the Chinese market.

"Young entrepreneurs are more aggressively using efficient and comfortable vehicles and services," said Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft president and CEO.

He disclosed that Honda had received eight orders from the Chinese market in the past six months from private buyers and charter operators.

Thanks to China's economic growth, more newly wealthy entrepreneurs want more efficient, convenient and comfortable transport.

"The essence of business aircraft as efficient transportation is more and more acknowledged by Chinese entrepreneurs, whose footprint and businesses are extending worldwide," Lau said.

The Chinese government was determined to foster growth of the general aviation industry, including business aviation, by building 200 new general airports and further opening its low-altitude airspace.

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