Continued optimism about Asia's business aviation industry has given Hawker Pacific, an Australian maintenance and aircraft charter company, the confidence to go ahead with plans to open a new facility in Shanghai, China and a second hub in Singapore.

When completed in September, the Shanghai facility at Hongqiao International Airport will comprise a 2,800m2 (30,000ft2) fixed base operation and a hangar large enough to accommodate two Boeing Business Jets or six Gulfstream GVs.

Delays in the approval of design plans and permits will result in the facility starting operations some six months later than expected.

However, John Riggir, Hawker's senior vice-president responsible for Asia, says: "We've taken the extra time to build a five-star FBO, to set the standard for VVIP services in China's economic capital which attracts top businessmen from Hong Kong, Europe and the USA."

Operations at Hawker's second facility in Singapore's Seletar Aerospace Park should begin around 2010. Currently, the company offers maintenance, repair and overhaul, handling and flight services out of an old hangar at Seletar that was refurbished in 2000. It has also just opened a temporary FBO at the site.

To be built for an estimated S$15 million ($11 million), the new 2Ha (5 acre) site will incorporate short-term and long-term parking space, tenant offices, a new FBO and a maintenance centre.

"The Shanghai facility will provide the model for a new integrated Singapore base. Together, it will help us make a mark in private aviation in Asia," says Riggir.

An expansion of operations in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand are on the cards, but it is India that the company is most excited about. Hawker is in talks with a potential partner that owns maintenance facilities in India, and plans for a joint venture could be firmed up by mid-2008.

"We've had a long history of supporting Indian aircraft in Singapore, and it logical to have a base in the country. As India's private aircraft population grows, there will be buoyant demand for MRO services and our expertise in this area puts us in a very good position."

Prospects of a slowing global economy are also unlikely to put a dampener on plans, says Riggir. "Our decisions are made based on market demand and a projected lack of infrastructure. We are investing in the future, in premium services at strategic locations around the world where there is likely to be growth."