Aircraft management company Business Aviation Asia (BAA) is hoping to swell its fleet of privately-owned business jets by 50% by the end of the year, but said the rate of expansion is being hampered by the deliberate delaying tactics of local government officials.
"It seems some people are trying to control the growth of mature companies, and at the same time giving the new players on the market an unfair advantage," said Ricky Leung, managing director of BAA, which has bases in Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin and its headquarters, Hong Kong.
The six-year-old company has about 15 mainly large cabin and long-range business jets awaiting delivery.
"You can apply to import up to three aircraft [at once] on [one] application at a time, and the process should take about three months per application," Leung said. "We have noticed this timeframe has been widening gradually, and today it can take us up to nine months to complete. The delays have a domino effect on other applications."
BAA has a fleet of 29 aircraft - including Airbus ACJ319/318s, Bombardier Global XRS/Challenger 605s, Gulfstream G450/550s and Dassault Falcon 900/7Xs - and hopes to add another 14 aircraft before the end of the year. "We'll be lucky if we do this number at this rate. The way things are going some deliveries may be pushed into 2013," Leung said.
BAA fears the delays may force impatient owners to switch their business to rival ventures with smaller delivery backlogs. "Customers ask if there is any way we can pull strings, but the delivery process involves nine government departments - who do you liase with?" Leung added.
Despite the setback, BAA is pressing ahead with plans to break ground in April on its first business aviation maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at China's Tianjin airport, 120km (75 miles) southeast of Beijing.
The MRO facility will the first of a yuan 300 million ($48 million) two-phase building programme within the airport's free trade zone, which will include a 1,100m (3,600ft) taxiway, fixed base operation, parking and paint hangars, a refurbishment facility and a training centre. The MRO facility is earmarked for completion in the second quarter of 2013.
"We expect to attract a lot of traffic at Tianjin," Leung predicted. "This already is a very busy and important base for logistics and freight traffic, so much of the infrastructure is already in place."
"The airport is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for business aviation users, due to the slot restrictions at Beijing airport," Leung added.