Asia shows signs of growth at ABACE, but NBAA warns that China needs nurturing

Asia’s fledging business jet market is showing signs of growth., although sales to Chinese operators have been slow to materialise. Bombardier announced at last week’s Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) sales of four aircraft to Asian customers within the last month, including two Learjet 45XRs, a Global Express XRS, and a Challenger 300.

Learjet 45XR Big

Japan’s Global Wings has exercised an option on a second Learjet 45XR and will take delivery of the aircraft in January. A Learjet 45XR will also be delivered in October 2006 to Philippine charter operator Subic Air Services, which already operates five Learjets.

The Challenger 300, to be delivered in June 2006, will be based in Taiwan and managed by My Aviation. The XRS will be delivered to an undisclosed South-East Asian operator in the fourth quarter of 2007. Bombardier regional vice-president Mike Fahey is optimistic Chinese corporations will also be placing orders in the near future. “There’s been a real boom in the last 12 to 18 months,” Fahey says. “The China market is just opening. We’re talking about many opportunities,” agrees Dassault Falcon Jet director of sales Carlos Brana.

But National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) president Ed Bolen says better infrastructure and a better understanding of the benefits of business aviation are needed before the market can grow in China. Bolen used the ABACE event, held in Shanghai, to urge the Chinese government to focus more on corporate aviation when building new airports.

While a lot of attention has been placed on the Chinese market, manufacturers say there is far more activity in South-East Asia. Cessna director of international sales Todd Duhnke says Cessna recently delivered two Citation XLS jets to customers in Indonesia and Malaysia. He says another “stand-up cabin aircraft” has been acquired by a Malaysian customer for delivery in 2006. Industry sources say Gulfstream is also close selling two aircraft in Indonesia.

Gulfstream president Bryan Moss declines to comment on future sales, but says: “The whole region is very attractive to us right now.” Moss adds China has the greatest potential and says he believes Chinese leaders want more business jets in China and are prepared to knock down the barriers impeding growth.

Moss says he is more “disappointed” with Japan, where attempts to encourage regulatory reform have so far been unsuccessful. Bolen says he stopped in Japan on his way to ABACE to meet with Japanese regulators, and the Japan Business Aviation Association says it has requested regulators implement 37 deregulation items.


Source: Flight International