Overseas business jets bullish on Chinese Market
On Monday morning, dozens of business jets and helicopters manufactured by well-known aircraft companies like Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus were lined up for display at the 2019 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.
The 8th ABACE came as the Chinese business aircraft market undergoes a “recovery period” as it slowly adjusts from a fast-growing period around 2013, one expert said. However, several overseas airplane companies said during the ABACE that they are still bullish on the outlook for China’s business aircraft market.
Khader Mattar, vice president of Sales for the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and China at Bombardier Business Aircraft, said that he believed that China’s business aircraft sector will still see growth.
“China is one of the top markets around the world for business aircraft. Last year, we mentioned that the (business aircraft) market here was still growing (for us),” he told the Global Times on Monday.
He also mentioned several positive external factors that may help stimulate market demand, such as his observation that a lot of local Chinese banks are supporting the financing of private jets, as well as the country’s steady GDP growth.
For this year’s ABACE, Bombardier displayed three business jets. Among them, the flagship Bombardier Global 7500 business jet, which has an ultra-long flying range of 7,700 nautical miles – allowing the aircraft to connect Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong non-stop to New York, London or Milan – made its debut at the event.
According to Bombardier, Hong Kong business jet management company HK Bellawings Jet just signed an order for four Global 7500 business jets.
“The sales of the Global 7500 business jet are also very ‘healthy’ in the Chinese mainland, though I can’t disclose the accurate numbers,” Yu Yubin, Regional Vice President of sales for Greater China with Bombardier Business Aircraft, told the Global Times on Monday.
“Chinese customers have relatively big demand for long-range aircraft as China’s economy continues its growth trend and as Chinese companies go abroad for business exploration amid globalization. I believe that big, long-range aircraft will be very suitable for Chinese customers for a long period in the future,” Yu said.
General statistics have shown that China’s business jet fleet growth slowed in 2018, indicating a cooling for the sector in the country.
According to the Asian Sky Fleet Report released during the 2019 ABACE, the number of business jets declined by 2 percent on a yearly basis in 2018 on the mainland, down from 10-percent growth in 2017.
In China, the size of the fleet decreased 0.2 percent in 2018, down from 8-percent growth the previous year.
By the end of 2018, the Chinese mainland had a total fleet of 338 operational business jets, making it the largest market in the world for business jets.
The number of new deliveries in the mainland increased from 16 in 2017 to 24 in 2018, but this was offset by a higher number of deductions – 15 in 2017 to 39 in 2018.
“The (Chinese business aviation) market is challenging for everyone, but the fundamentals (in the Chinese market) remain quite strong. So that’s why in the mid- to long- term, we believe that the (Chinese) market will remain quite strong,” Chadi Saade, VP Commercial of Airbus Corporate Jets, told the Global Times.
In 2018, Airbus made no new business jet deliveries in the mainland. Currently the company has a fleet of 12 aircraft on the mainland.
Lin Zhijie, a veteran airplane market watcher, said that the Chinese business aircraft market is “squeezing out bubbles” and is undergoing a recovery after it exploded around 2014.
“Problems exist on both the supply and the demand side. In terms of demand, the reduced business jet travel by Chinese officials as a result of the anti-corruption campaign in China in recent years has caused the market demand to shrink in general,” Lin told the Global Times on Monday.
He also noted that on the supply side, the few airports in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing can barely handle the flight schedule for civil aircraft, not to mention the more niche business aircraft.
China is planning to establish 500 general aviation airports and 5,000 general aviation aircraft by the end of 2020, according to the 13th Five-Year Plan for Development of General Aviation.
China’s general aviation airports certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China increased from 175 in 2010 to 229 by the end of 2017, while the number of domestic general aviation aircraft increased from 1,010 in 2010 to 3,229 in 2018.
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