Global Wings Extends Reach to China

 - October 4, 2006, 9:50 AM

Two factors have brightened business prospects for Japanese executive charter operator Global Wings: joining Bombardier’s Skyjet International fixed-rate charter program and getting a Chinese operating partner. The Tokyo-based firm took delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier Learjet 45XR, in January. The aircraft is used largely for flights within China, using the capital Beijing as a base.

According to Global Wings president and CEO Tak Masamura, the key to unlocking the Chinese market was forming a partnership with Air China Business Jets. He told AIN that it would have been difficult for a Japanese firm to operate within China without a local partner, and most particularly without a Chinese air operators certificate.

The partnership has made it significantly easier to get the necessary landing and overflight permits for flights within China. One of its most commonly flown routes is between Beijing and Hong Kong, and it sometimes flies between China and Japan.

Global Wings was accepted into the Skyjet program in March last year, having just ordered the 45XR aircraft. Masamura said that the program has generated customers that the operator would not have been likely to get by itself, especially clients from the U.S. and Europe, where it has no direct representation.

The next goal for Global Wings is to stimulate business aviation growth in Japan itself. Masamura acknowledged that the world’s second largest economy has yet to fulfill its potential in this respect, but he predicted that could change with the right infrastructure and the right product in place.

In his view, Japanese companies haven’t previously seen any point to using business aircraft for domestic trips. They can see a need to use them for intercontinental trips (largely to the U.S.) but find it hard to justify purchasing the large, long-range aircraft this requires.

“We want to show them that they don’t need to buy aircraft right away because they can start with charter,” said Masamura. He also maintained that smaller aircraft, such as the 45XR, are more cost-effective for both domestic Japanese flights and regional business trips to other parts of Asia. He predicted that the increased availability of services such as charter, aircraft management and executive handling will strengthen the case for business aviation in Japan.

But what about the notorious problems associated with business aircraft access to Japanese airports? Masamura pointed out that whereas as much as 10 days’ notice has previously been required to get in or out of a Japanese airport, this has now been reduced to three days.

In June, Global Wings and Japan Kansai International Airport agreed to cooperate in promoting business aircraft use of the offshore airport, which serves the city of Osaka and the surrounding area. A second runway opening in 2007 is expected to significantly increase capacity for non-scheduled aircraft operations at the gateway, which is open around the clock.

Global Wings intends to obtain its own Japanese air operators certificate next year. After that it will establish a base for executive charter operations at the Kansai airport.