Piaggio today made its first Chinese delivery of the P180 Avanti II twin turboprop. On the first day of Airshow China 2012 in Zhuhai the Italian manufacturer handed over one of two Avantis acquired by its exclusive Chinese distributor CAEA Aviation Investment Company. The aircraft is to be operated by CAEA subsidiary Free Sky Aviation in a new club-style shared use program for private clients.
“We had been looking for the right partner in China for some time as a way to enter the Chinese market,” said John Bingham, CEO of Piaggio America and chief marketing officer of Piaggio Aero Industries. He told AIN Piaggio is very optimistic about the Avanti’s prospects in the fast-growing Chinese market for private aviation, following its October 2011 certification by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Beijing-based CAEA was formed in July 2011 and, in addition to new and pre-owned aircraft sales, it is also active in aircraft management, financing and leasing, as well as in business aircraft maintenance and handling. Company president Li Xuefeng was previously vice president of sales for Embraer in China and vice president of contracts Ji Guang came from airline group HNA.
Free Sky Aviation will provide charter flights for “club” members at preferential rates. In addition to the Avanti, it also intends to operate various jets, including the Dassault Falcon 7X.
“We believe we are pioneering a unique business model here [in China],” said Li, who maintained that the combination of competitive purchase and operating costs with a comfortable cabin make the Avanti a strong entry-level contender for China’s business aviation market.
“The aircraft is fast, quiet and big inside, and the operating costs for that speed are low,” said Bingham. “Free Sky Aviation will use the airplane for regional charters, for which there is good demand in China. We expect to be selling quite a few through CAEA.”