By Kate Sarsfield in London

Swiss business aviation services company TAG Aviation is hoping to begin charter operations within China by the end of the year as demand for business aircraft soars throughout the region.

"We are hoping to sign a letter of intent within the next couple of months with an established Chinese operator to offer aircraft management and charter within China," says TAG Aviation chief executive Roger McMullin.

He says the joint-venture partnership will enable TAG to cut through the bureaucratic red tape, synonymous with the Chinese regulatory environment. The venture will also allow the company to certificate and register its aircraft in China and operate the aircraft on a Chinese air operator's certificate, which will remove many operating restrictions. "There is a market in China for Western companies that want to have their aircraft in China for their own use," McMullin says. The first base is likely to be in Beijing, he adds.

TAG began its foray into the Asian market late last year with the formation of TAG Asia in Hong Kong. The charter and management operation began with a French-registered Dassault Falcon 2000 and has since grown significantly with the addition of a Bombardier Global Express, while a Challenger 604 and Global 5000 are scheduled to join the fleet later this year and in 2008 respectively.

Meanwhile, TAG is set to break ground at the end on the year on the second phase of development at Farnborough airport, west of London. Plans call for 11,000m2 (120,000ft2) of hangarage to the west of its operation, expanding the existing maintenance capacity from 5,580m2 to 9,300m2 and the construction of a hotel to the east of the operation.

Source: Flight International