General Aviation Profile

An Interview with Astro Air

An Interview with Astro Air
JJ Chen
JJ Chen
Founder, President, and CEO Astro Air

Astro Air won “2021’s most innovative enterprise” award at the 10th China Finance Summit. As a high-profile general aviation (GA) company in mainland China, Astro Air’s main business includes aircraft management, business charter services, aircraft sales, infrastructure construction and operation, medical transportation, and aviation training. To better understand Astro Air’s success in general aviation and low-altitude flights, Asian Sky Media interviewed JJ Chen, Founder, President and CEO of Astro Air. The interview helped us understand more about Astro Air’s operational strategies and the advantages as well as related businesses in the low-altitude sector.

What is Astro Air’s development history and operational philosophy?

Astro Air started preparations in 2011 and was established in 2012. The headquarters are located in Shenzhen Qianhai Free Trade Zone and the main operations are based in Shenzhen Baoan International Airport. Astro Air also set up branches in Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, and Hong Kong International Airport. With complementary advantages of “domestic + overseas” dual platforms, Astro Air can provide one-stop solutions for charter clients and business jet clients with aircraft registered domestically and overseas.

What maintenance qualifications has Astro Air acquired in mainland China?

Astro Air’s maintenance and engineering department obtained a maintenance and maintenance engineering management qualification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (VPC), Civil Aviation Authority of San Marino (T7) and Civil Aviation Authority of Isle of Man (M). These qualifications lay a secure foundation of operations for aircraft inside and outside China. After years of development, Astro Air has established a powerful maintenance technical team. The team members are all experienced and used to work in a variety of famous aviation companies. They hold maintenance licenses from the CAAC as well as FAA A&P licenses. They also have abundant experience in technical management, base maintenance, airline, and emergency external aid, aircraft delivery as well as troubleshooting.

In addition, Astro Air can provide assurances regarding operation and maintenance for mainstream models of various business jet OEMs such as Gulfstream, Dassault, Bombardier, and Hawker. The company’s maintenance network expands from Shenzhen to the whole country, establishing a 7*24-hour global AOG emergency support capability to manage possible aircraft failures at any time.

How many aircraft has Astro Air added this year? What qualifications does Astro Air have as a general aviation company that operates both business jets and helicopters?

Astro Air had a net increase of three business jet management aircraft during the first half of 2021, namely one Bombardier Global 5000, one Bombardier Global 6000, and one Dassault Falcon 900LX. At the same time, Astro Air also increased one leased Bell 429 helicopter. As such, the fleet size has grown steadily. As a general aviation company that operates fixed-wing aircraft, business jets, and helicopters, Astro Air qualifies for the CCAR-91, CCAR-145, CCAR-135, FAR-91 (N-REG), OTAR-91 (VPC REG) IS-BAO Stage II, CAR OPS2A (T7-REG), and Civil Aviation (Rules of the Air) Order 2021 (M-REG). Astro Air adheres to the operation philosophy of security and high efficiency and has a complete range of professional staff.

Congratulation to Astro Air for winning the “2021’s most innovative enterprise” from China Finance Summit. As the winner of the “2021 Influencer award”, how do you understand the term “innovation”?

First of all, I would like to thank the Finance Summit for giving the honor of “2021’s Most Innovative Enterprise” to Astro Air. Enterprise innovation ability refers to enhancing the internal quality and motivating businesses to acquire more differences between themselves and competitors. The strength of innovation can also influence the development and competitiveness of a company. Whilst leading the development of Astro Air, we initiated a “Sparking Talented Project” partner plan to inspire the managers and employees to form a community within the company and grow together thus achieving a win-win situation. In terms of the product model, through much consideration, we have followed the demands of the general aviation market to improve our products. We changed the old product model in fields such as PSP, and bank factoring to solve the need of the industry.

As an excellent manager and decision-maker, what new strategies and plans does Astro Air have in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuations in the market?

Astro Air plans to finish an A-share IPO listing around 2023. We plan to expand core businesses such as aircraft property rights transactions, management, and business jet charter services while maintaining a steady development of subsidiaries. Activating the driving force of productivity through co-founders makes Astro Air a versatile aviation holding group. In the lowaltitude field, Astro Air plans to speed up the development of PSP, low-altitude express, and Internet operating. We are dedicated to improving the cross-border and member system to become an international comprehensive aviation company that can represent China’s image.

Could you elaborate on relevant strategies and results that Astro Air has done to open up the low-altitude field?

Strategies include accumulating low-altitude sectors, matching high and low altitudes, as well as providing customized highend charter services for high-value clients in the Greater Bay Area. Astro Air’s low-altitude services include helicopter charter services, air tourism, infrastructure construction and operation, aviation finance as well as fractional ownership program.

Currently, the successful cases are as follows.

One Shenzhen Bay’s helipad (One Shenzhen Bay T7 Helipad was the first office space elevated helipad that was certified by the CAAC. Since 2014, Astro Air has provided professional consulting and acquisition services of operation certificates.) In terms of travel efficiency, starting from One Shenzhen Bay, it takes 30 minutes to fly to Guangzhou, 20 minutes to Zhuhai, 15 minutes to Hong Kong and other areas in Shenzhen.

  • Jointly created by Astro Air and the Overseas Chinese Town Group (OCT), the project “Air Tourism of Eastern Overseas Chinese Town” provided the first air tourism services in 5A thematic scenic areas. This project was listed as a great example of general aviation tourism by the National Development and Reform Commission.
  • The helicopter shuttle project between Shenzhen Airport and Futian CBD: which is the leader of rapid transportation in the Greater Bay Area: In 2015, the western, middle, and eastern airways in Shenzhen were opened. From Shenzhen Airport to Futian CBD to Eastern Overseas Chinese Town, Astro Air connected them by rapid helicopters.
  • Fixed-point airline “Guangzhou Yuexiu Fortune Center – Shenzhen Excellence Group – Zhuhai Hengqin Port”: The first line connecting three cities in the Pearl River Delta. “Guangzhou Yuexiu – Shenzhen Excellent – Zhuhai Hengqin” first flew on December 31st, 2015.

What are included in Astro Air’s low-altitude businesses?

The low-altitude business mainly provides Pearl River Delta city shuttle flight services. The helicopter’s low-altitude flight network mainly covers major cities in the Pearl River Delta such as Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Chaoshan. It is aiming to satisfy the need for fast and efficient travel. Astro Air is dedicated to building a strategic helicopter platform to achieve a 30-minute lifecycle for intra-city flights. The services are mainly concentrated on the following aspects.

Greater Bay Area VIP shuttle among Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macao:

Astro Air established an industry alliance with other operators such as China Southern Zhuhai Helicopter and COHC. Astro Air took the idea of light assets by using existing fleets and a large support team to operate a low-altitude express business.

Short distance transportation:

After continuous improvement and the setting up of operation networks as well as landing and take-off sites and airport infrastructure, Astro Air combines the government’s short-distance transportation policies with the trend of constructing medium and small airports to lower ticket prices and save time for passengers.

Air Tourism:

Astro Air operates helicopter air tourism services in every scenic and downtown area of the Pearl River Delta. It not only satisfies flight enthusiasts’ wish to fly to the sky but also gives passengers the chance to appreciate the beautiful sceneries nationwide.

Low-altitude aircraft charter services:

Astro Air tries to enhance the willingness of business jet consumers to purchase and use helicopters in the form of fractional ownerships. Astro Air provides diversified support and service systems including aircraft management, customized air routes, complete facilities, and flexible charter services.

Specific digital marketing strategy :

Through the development of “Astro Air APP 2.0”, Astro Air created a helicopter digital operating platform containing general aviation business development, general aviation ecosystem establishment, and general aviation technological innovation. Astro Air plans accurately to manage helicopters, pilots, cabin crew, helipads, airlines, climate, and regulatory information.

Astro Air