The market for business aircraft in North America will remain stagnant for 18-24 months according to Boeing Business Jet supremo Lee Monson. More than 85% of private business jets are based in North America, so Monson's prediction paints a depressing picture for manufacturers.

So while US corporate profits - accepted by analysts as the key driver for growth in the sector - remain in the doldrums, the focus of attention will be on other markets.

Asia and the Middle East are the areas where Monson expects to find new opportunities for corporate sales. His team is now picking up the sales campaign it put on hold during the war in Iraq. "A huge part of our activity is happening there," he says.

Asia, and China in particular, is really exciting him. "There are cultural changes that need to take place if private business aviation is to develop. Some of that is already happening. The actual capability and infrastructure of international airports in China is pretty good. There are plenty of places that can accommodate BBJ operations already. The economies in the region have been the most robust, and projections suggest continued growth of 6-8%. We're watching developments."

Sadly, in Europe, corporate jets are still viewed as an excess, says Monson. But he believes that the model developed by PrivatAir, the only operator to use a BBJ for third party corporate shuttle services, is one that will find favour elsewhere. "There is potential to find unique sets of city pairs where the commercial airlines are not offering flexibility. The key is pairs which are not serviced frequently enough and where there is enough of the higher end market to fill 40-50 seats a day," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News