Private jet sales taking off

Updated: 2011-03-29 10:42

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)

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Private jet sales taking off

A flight attendant in an Airbus A318 Elite business jet on display at the Business Aviation Center during the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress in Hong Kong on March 9. [Photo / Bloomberg] 

Airbus expects 25 orders for corporate aircraft over five years

BEIJING - With its steaming economy and surging ranks of billionaires, China has become the fastest-growing market for Airbus' private jet business, with at least 25 corporate jets to be sold in the next five years.

"The demand for corporate jets is already very high, and the government is more supportive of corporate aviation," Francois Chazelle, vice-president of worldwide sales at Europe's Airbus Corporate Jets, said at a news conference on Monday.

Eric Chen, senior vice-president of Airbus China, added: "Five aircraft a year is a conservative figure. We have already sold two in the first quarter of this year in China."

Airbus reached a record high in private jet sales last year, delivering 15 aircraft worth $1.5 billion. Airbus has sold 20 aircraft in China since 2005, accounting for about 25 percent of its business jet sales.

There are currently six Airbus business jets in operation in China, with another two set to begin flying soon, Chazelle said.

Chinese civil aviation is expected to grow 11 percent annually between 2011 and 2015, requiring a total of 1,100 aircraft. The nation's private aviation increased by 400 percent in 2010 over 2009, said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China.

More than 100 business jets are in operation in the country now, according to statistics from Firestone Management Group's released in January.

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The increase in the number of business jets is a result of the booming Chinese economy, which by 2009 was home to about 875,000 millionaires and 1,363 billionaires, according to the Hurun Rich List, the Chinese equivalent of the Forbes list.

Airbus' flying office for the ultra-rich is mainly aimed at large corporations and individual entrepreneurs and hopes to lure more government customers in the future, Chazelle said.

Despite the difficulties of private aviation in China such as air traffic control, the corporate jet business has gained sudden attention from global plane makers since 2010.

Canada's Bombardier forecast the industry will make 600 business jet deliveries in China between 2010 and 2019, while US-based Gulfstream and French business jet maker Dassault Falcon are also boosting their presence on the Chinese mainland, according to Agence France-Presse. US plane maker Boeing is introducing its own private jets in China on Thursday in Beijing.

Also on Monday, Airbus announced it has appointed Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering Company Ltd as its first approved cabin-outfitter in the Asia-Pacific region, expanding its finishing centers.

"We are shifting our marketing focus to China and Asia, setting up sales offices in Hong Kong and Beijing," Chen said. "As more and more business leaders become aware of the benefits of traveling in their own aircraft, there will be a domino effect."



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