Business aircraft travel boom stimulates FBO growth

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Growing demand for business aviation in northeast Asia is leading to more hub airports in the region to approve plans for fixed based operations (FBOs), or to expand facilities.

A new business aviation centre at Japan's Narita airport is scheduled to begin operations on 31 March - the first in the country's capital, Tokyo. Business jet users had to use the main terminal buildings, but the new centre features dedicated facilities and ground-handling services, says Yukiyoshi Noguchi, of Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau.

The attitude of the authorities in the world's third largest economy towards business aviation is gradually changing, he adds. The number of slots available for business jets has increased from 26 a week to 18 a day since October 2011, although that is still much fewer than the other airports in the region. Private jets, however, are still not allowed to land at Narita during four peak periods during the day.

Officials from the Shanghai Airport Authority said they could soon approve plans for a FBO at the city's Pudong airport. Shanghai's only dedicated FBO, a joint venture between Hawker Pacific and the airport authority, is at Hongqiao airport.

Shanghai, China's financial capital, accounts for more than a third of the country's business aviation traffic and a new FBO would meet the growing demand, they said. A tender is likely to be held to select an international company to run the FBO in a model similar to what Hawker Pacific does in Hongqiao, said the officials.

Beijing Capital airport has a FBO that is run as a joint venture between the airport authority and the local government. Cities such as Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Tianjin also have plans to start up FBOs to attract more business aviation traffic.

Industry sources at ABACE said the Airport Authority Hong Kong is expected to issue a request for proposals for a second FBO at the international hub later this year. This would compete against the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre, which some business aircraft operators regard as too crowded and expensive.