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AA11: Cessna sales VP sees strong opportunities in China

Cessna's vice president of international sales Trevor Esling is a familiar face at the world's air shows. In recent months his itinerary has included air shows in China, Australia, and now Asian Aerospace 2011.

Though he sees big opportunities in China for both business and general aviation, he says potential buyers have some way to go before the country realises its true potential.

"The easiest way for a sales guy to sell a plane is to pick up a book and see who's already got one," says Esling. "In China, nobody has one. They don't have much exposure to planes, and don't know one aircraft from another."

This is Esling's third visit to Asian Aerospace. As to whether potential clients at the show are becoming more sophisticated, he notes that the timeframe is too short to gauge.

"The private jet market in this part of the world is still very young," he says. "You won't see many of the top-top [potential buyers] here, but only the guys who work for them. Hong Kong is not mainland China. If you want to sell jets, you need to be in China."

Esling adds that strong top line economic growth in the region has not corresponded to a large increase in aircraft sales over the last few years. That said, he sees sales activity picking up in key regional countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

India will see three Cessna CJ2+ twin jet aircraft delivered in the first quarter of 2011. Esling says Indian buyers like the aircraft because it can reach any point in the country without refuelling, and also has good short field performance.

Another aircraft he sees potential for in India is the single turboprop Cessna Caravan. This aircraft, he notes, is good for short strips, can land on grass, and needs little infrastructure to operate effectively.