A change in attitude towards the ownership of business jets in China will see a major growth in orders particularly in the area of larger cabins, says the head of Airbus executive and private aviation division Francois Chazelle.
In the commercial aircraft world the Asia Pacific marketshare is forecast to reach 30 percent, and Chazelle says that executive aircraft could do the same.
Speaking on the eve of the show, Chazelle said that China is coming from virtually a standing start. "A few years back people didn't own houses let alone business jets. It wasn't culturally or politically acceptable. There is now a big change and the Chinese government recognises the role these aircraft play as a corporate tool.
"People often forget just how big Asia is. Also, China is developing its influence and economic importance. There is a clear direction from central government to develop business aviation as a means to develop the economy. China needs foreign markets to grow and is proactive developing export markets for south-south cooperation in Africa, Latin America and south east Asia. As more wealth is created and demand rises so does the need for business aircraft."
Traditionally the demand for the airliner or large cabin aircraft comes from customers moving up from smaller jets. Experience in Russia showed Airbus that this could be different.
"Because it is a new market we find some owners will go straight to an Airbus Corporate Jet," Chazelle says. "Culturally, we think that there is more of a demand for new aircraft rather than used aircraft."
Airbus has 20 VIP aircraft on order or in service throughout the Greater China area, more than six times more than Boeing. "We certified the ACJ in China years ago as were certifying the A320 family. We have a huge sales operation in China from the airline side, contrary to Boeing who still sell from Seattle into this market. So we have a lot of Chinese nationals acting as sales directors, we have the assembly line at TianJin, and the training centre," Chazelle says.
Another cultural advantage for Airbus is that its ACJ cabin width enables a round table to be installed. "That's something people appreciate. It is harmonious."