BAA Jet Management has indefinitely delayed its plans for a Chinese business aviation facility due to problems securing approvals from the Guangdong provincial government.

The Hong Kong-based company and Shenzhen Airlines formed a joint venture in 2006 to manage business jets through the carrier's Part-135 equivalent Chinese air operator's certificate. The new company, Asia United Business Aviation (AUBA), was also scheduled to run a fixed-base operation and business jet maintenance facilities at Shenzhen's Bao'an International Airport.

However, its hopes of starting operations in early 2009 have faced several hurdles over the last year. The biggest has been the provincial government, which has held back its permission for the project until plans for the redevelopment of the entire airport have been firmed up.

"We are keen to proceed, but the government says it wants our project to go ahead in tandem with the redevelopment of the entire airport. So we have to wait as well, and it is very frustrating," says Jeff Lowe, BAA's director of sales and marketing.

"Our company has worked on this for a long time, and these plans were integral to our expansion into the Chinese market. As a result of this delay, we have not been able to go to the MRO service providers and manufacturers and ask them to come on board with us as part of a major business aviation initiative in China."

He would not speculate on when the plans for the airport will be confirmed, saying: "We are wary about giving any new dates. Our Chinese partners are in talks with the government, without whom nothing can be done, and we hope that something can be confirmed soon. Otherwise, we will continue to be in limbo."

Lowe adds that the company is also holding back on its plans for a second business aviation base outside Beijing, China's capital, saying that the authorities there have also not finalised their plans for the region.

While it waits, BAA continues to add to the seven aircraft that it manages. The company will add an Airbus A318 by the end of the year. A Gulfstream G550 will come on board in January, followed by a Falcon 900EX and 2000EX in February. Other aircraft in the pipeline include a Bombardier Challenger 604, another 2000EX, an Airbus Corporate Jetliner and two Airbus A350s in VIP configuration.

Lowe remains confident about the prospects for the aircraft management business despite the looming global economic crisis, even though he admits that aircraft sales could slow down in the coming months as some people who may have considered buying a business jet earlier this year change their mind.

"It is understandable if some people decide not to buy an aircraft now, given the uncertainty that the stock markets and economies are facing. However, we must remember that Asia is growing from a very small base. Once we ride out the coming bad months, the prospects will continue to remain very bright."

Source: Flight International