Business aviation has a bright future in Asia, but will take some time to reach its full potential. Key drivers are the economy, regional trade and customer education. Jason Liao, president of the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), says: “Companies in the region are gradually getting familiar with business aviation and realising its advantages.”
Thanks to their large land masses, China and India are set to become major consumers; but the business aviation industry in both countries is unlikely to explode in the short term. India is still plagued by corruption and China is struggling to keep up. Throughout the region, there is difficulty reconciling military thinking with commercial realities.
Bureaucracy is a major stumbling block. A great deal of Asian aviation is managed by military personnel, who do not have a strong commercial sense. Accessibility, punitive import taxes, restrictive regulations and a lack of infrastructure combined with slot and route restrictions add to the mix. Pricey landing fees and the length of time it takes to get permissions also impede growth. 
Nevertheless there is enormous potential in Asia. Corporate aviation is booming in Indonesia, fixed-base operations are running at capacity and AsBAA has made huge strides in increasing regional awareness. Last year it organised Asia’s first business aviation conference in Shanghai. Liao says: “The potential for business aviation here is huge, yet faced with many challenges. These challenges can more effectively be dealt with by an association than an individual company. The need to work together was obvious.”
Hong Kong Aviation’s Chris Buchholz adds: “There has been a real shift over the last couple of years. People here are increasingly thinking of corporate aviation as a viable business tool – and don’t forget many users are companies based outside the region who are coming in to do business here.”
At the other end of the spectrum, there are glimmers of hope in the GA community, the breeding ground for tomorrow’s pilots. Thailand and Singapore enjoy a thriving GA scene and Cambodia opened its first recreational flying school last year. Luke Bezet, chief flying instructor, says: “We’re already at capacity and are going to need another instructor soon.” In Hong Kong film star Michael Wong set up the first pan-regional charity “Operational Flying Eagle”, aimed at increasing awareness of flying among young people and promoting helicopter training. Supported by Hong Kong Aviation, to date the charity has introduced 700 youngsters to flying in its Eurocopter AS355N Twin Squirrel.

Source: Flight Daily News