Shanghai’s business jet bonanza

This first appeared as a Comment in the 22 April issue of Flight International

Minsheng Financial Leasing’s order this week for up to 70 Gulfstream and Bombardier business jets was a pivotal event in China’s tentative moves toward becoming the business aviation powerhouse that such a geographically large and increasingly wealthy ­country ought to be. The Gulfstream portion alone comprised 40 firm orders and 20 options, making it one of the biggest orders in the venerable firm’s history.
Both orders were actually closed in 2013, but the Chinese company wanted to wait until the ABACE event in Shanghai to announce them. Minsheng’s bombshell added to a 2014 show already bigger than previous iterations. Rarely does one see such a concentration of serious business aviation metal.
Best of all, well away from the chalets and glamour of ABACE, change is underway in the byzantine halls of the Chinese bureaucracy.
While the “get-in-the-jet-and-go” culture of North America will take a while to reach China, the government in Beijing has made it much easier for business jets to operate around the vast country – although there are still many obstacles to direct ownership.
Given that China is nowhere close to launching an indigenous business jet programme, the likes of ­Gulfstream, Dassault, Bombardier and Embraer can ­expect a long feast in the one of the world’s most promising business aviation markets.

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