While Brazil's dominance of the Latin American business aircraft market is unquestionable, the position of its continental neighbours is mixed.

The unrelenting political and economic crises in Argentina and Venezuela have hit business aircraft sales and fleet numbers, which, according to the latest statistics from UK data research company Buchair, total 292 and 166 aircraft, respectively. Furthermore, an upturn in these previously lucrative markets is unlikely in the short term.

Mexico, on the other hand, with a fleet of over 670 business jets and turboprops, is snapping at the heels of its southern neighbour. The Central American country ranks third behind the USA and Brazil (Flight International, 21-27 January).

Other bright spots are Colombia and Chile, with 170 and 29 business aircraft respectively, says ABAG executive director Adalberto Febeliano.

The enduring prospects for growth in Latin America are bright. As new regulations such as RVSM, 8.33Hz and Stage 3 noise compliance are implemented, it will become commercially unviable to continue operating the more antiquated types that are commonplace in Latin America. This has provided a shot in the arm for business aircraft manufacturers, which are waiting to take a share of the upgrade market.

As market leader in Latin America with a fleet of around 250 aircraft, Bombardier says impending regulations coupled with the move towards free trade with other parts of the world, will drive demand for new aircraft. Fabio Rebello, Bombardier Aerospace's regional vice president of sales for Latin America says: "Businesses are having to expose their products and find creative ways of introducing hard currency into their countries."

The shift in economic focus has led to more international travel and increased demand for larger cabin types, Rebello adds, such as the Challenger 604, which has the capability to fly from São Paulo to Miami. "Our installed base of large jets has risen from one aircraft 14 years ago to 20 today," he adds.

Large-cabin business aircraft manufacturer Dassault Falcon Jet supports this claim. "We have seen a real awakening in Latin America in the past five years. As corporations have increased their business activities outside the region, there has been more demand to travel longer distances with more people," says Jeff Habib, vice-president international sales. Dassault operates 10 large cabin Falcons in Brazil alone and has five Falcon 2000EXs on order, it says.

Dassault expects the rich pickings in the region will come from governments, such as Brazil and Chile, looking to upgrade their VIP fleets with new generation types. Dassault Falcon Jet president John Rosanvallon says: "We are optimistic that more than 50% of new orders [in the region] will come from government requirement for VIP and special mission aircraft."

Source: Flight International