If a crisis is also an opportunity, then Embraer is taking that dictum to heart in China by beefing up its business aviation operations amid the economic downturn to prepare for the next wave of growth.

While China has been perceived as one of the brightest prospects in the corporate aviation sector, airframers admit that actual sales are still slow compared to Southeast Asia and other parts of Asia. Nonetheless, the Brazilian company has been trying to build on its existing operations in the country to boost sales.

"We are affected by the economic crisis because the whole business jet market shrank, making it difficult for aircraft sales, However, this also is a time when customers are seeking aircraft with value for money, lower operating cost and better customer support." the company says

One major issue facing Asian jet operators is that maintenance costs are high with still few easily accessible MRO centres, spare parts are hard to come by, and customer service offices are often located far away.

Embraer, however, says that it is it is taking steps to rectify the situation as more companies and their senior executives realise that corporate aviation can be a useful business tool.

"We have been investing heavily to promote our business jets in China. Besides selling the products to direct customers, we have been working with aircraft management service providers, FBOs and local government agencies to introduce the products and services, organising demo flights, participating industry events, and running advertisements in local professional and luxury publications," says Embraer's Chinese subsidiary.

"Customer service is our competitive advantage in this market. We have our spare parts centre in Beijing and training facilities in Sanya and Zhuhai. To better support our customer's operation in this region, we are also planning to have Embraer authorized service centres in China."

At Asian Aerospace, Embraer is promoting its Legacy 600 and Lineage 1000 business jets, which it believes are best suited to the Chinese operating environment. "Because the current operating environment requires that private owned jet to be managed by service providers or charter operators, aircraft below the middle size category is difficult to provide the economic gains to offset the management cost," it says.

Source: Flight Daily News