Gulfstream Aerospace has sold three super mid-size Gulfstream 200 business jets to Hainan Airlines of China for $60 million. It is the first time a Gulfstream product has been sold in China, and it will be the first super mid-size jet to operate in the region, says Roger Sperry, division vice-president of international sales.
The deal has whetted the company's appetite for business in China. "Hainan Airlines is a respected organisation, and this will be a catalyst for further sales into this market," says Sperry. The Beijing-based airline will use the aircraft for scheduled charter services to supplement its current flights.
China's rapid Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, combined with steadily improving infrastructure and a government that recognises the importance of business jets, make it a large potential market. "In China, the barriers are coming down quite rapidly," says Buddy Sams, senior vice-president of government sales and marketing.
"The Asia-Pacific region as a whole has lacked the feeder and secondary airports that are common in North America," adds Sams. "China has traditionally lagged in this area, but we see a renewed emphasis on their part."
China's approach represents a sharp contrast to that of the Japanese government. "Japanese practices have kept a tight lid on the growth of business aircraft in Japan," says Sams, who is a former member of the US-Japan Business Council and has many years of experience in lobbying the Japanese government.
After 10 years of lobbying, he says, just two slots opened up to business aviation at Narita Airport, increasing the total number from three to five. "What they really need to do is open Haneda Airport (in downtown Tokyo) – there is no excuse for not operating business jets in and out of there. They have hours of idle time."
China, he says, is different. "The number of airports is limited, but the leadership understands the importance of having business aircraft flying in and out of China. They bring business leaders and decision-makers into the country. I suspect very quickly China will make significant investments in airport infrastructure."
Source: Flight Daily News