AA11: Jet Aviation seeks space to grow MRO services in Hong Kong

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With a business aircraft the must-have accessory of China's growing army of billionaires, Jet Aviation is tapping the surge in demand for local maintenance. But as with many things in booming Hong Kong, finding space to grow can be tricky.

The Swiss aviation services group set up three years ago its line maintenance operation at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre - site of Asian Aerospace's sister business aviation exhibition this week.

Already the facility is straining at the seams and Jet Aviation - like its competitors - is looking at expansion. "The boom in business aviation in greater China caught us all by surprise," says managing director Nigel Parker, formerly of Cathay Pacific, who was recruited in 2008 to launch the venture. "Just the number of jets coming into Hong Kong this year will virtually double the fleet."

Jet Aviation (Hong Kong) looks after 12 jets as part of a management agreement with the owners. It also carries out maintenance on other aircraft in partnership with China Aircraft Services, which has a hangar at the airport.

However, it is keen to establish its own indoor maintenance facility at Hong Kong - although space around the airport is at a premium - as well as open a site in China itself. "We are in discussions about a hangar here and we are also actively talking about expanding our footprint into the mainland," says Parker.

Jet Aviation (Hong Kong) is this week being audited by the European Aviation Safety Agency - its green light would join approvals from US and Hong Kong authorities.

The operation is a base maintenance facility for several Bombardier, Cessna and Gulfstream types and Parker expects to be authorised as a Dassault Falcon service centre by May. It is also a Gulfstream approved interior warranty centre.

Parker and his team of 35 - which includes 10 licensed technicians - have outgrown their cramped office at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre's fixed base operation and will move later this month to new premises which at 200m2 offer five times more space.