Organizers of the second Asian Aerospace show in Hong Kong (September 8 to 10) have claimed progress in developing the new show in tough market conditions. According to Reed Exhibitions, the amount of exhibitor space sold was up 60 percent on the inaugural September 2007 event (even though the total number of individual exhibitors was actually down, to 356 from 575). Some 12,600 trade visitors registered at the Asia World Expo center, a slight increase for the 2009 show, and about one third of these visitors came from China.
Looking beyond the current downturn, Reed is now planning to hold the third Asian Aerospace show from March 8 to 10, 2011. The official reason given was the desire to avoid the typhoon season (one hit Hong Kong the week after this year’s show). However, this would also provide a more even spacing for the biennial event alongside the rival Singapore Air Show, which is held around February or March of even-numbered years. (The next one takes place from Feb. 2 to 7, 2010.)
Business aviation constituted a significant portion of Asian Aerospace, with the new Asian Business Aviation event being held under the umbrella of the main event. This resulted from the Asian Business Aviation Association’s decision to join forces with Reed after its previous partner NBAA opted to cancel this year’s ABACE show.
There were 16 business aircraft in the static aircraft display: an Airbus A318 Elite; Bombardier’s Learjet 60XR, Challenger 605 and 850, and a Global Express XRS; Cessna’s Citation X; Dassault’s Falcon 7X and a 2000; an Embraer Legacy 600; Gulfstream G150, G200, G450 and G550 (as well as a GV-SP provided by Jet Aviation); Hawker Beechcraft 4000; and a Piaggio Avanti II.
The A318 Elite, operated by Hong Kong-based BAA Jet Management, was the first of this type to be delivered to a customer in Asia. The aircraft features a private office that converts into a bedroom with en suite bathroom.
Hong Kong-based Asia Jet, in conjunction with operating partner MetroJet, announced plans to introduce a new Challenger 605 to its charter fleet. The aircraft will be available in next year’s third quarter.
Jet Aviation has just added a Challenger 605, 604 and Embraer Legacy to its management fleet in Asia, which now consists of 10 aircraft. The jets will be based in Thai capital Bangkok and Hong Kong, where the company’s facility has been authorized as an FAA repair station, allowing it to provide maintenance for U.S.-registered aircraft.
The Switzerland-based business aviation services group also reported that its FBO in Beijing recently relocated to a new building at Capital International Airport. The operation, which is a joint venture with China’s Deer Air and Reach Investment, provides handling and AOG maintenance support under the leadership of newly appointed general manager Lutz Wierschin and director of FBO services Paul Desgrosseilliers. Separately, Jet Aviation has appointed Bernard Loo as the new manager of its FBO in Singapore.
Project Phoenix announced that it has delivered the first Phoenix CRJ to go to an Asian operator. The remodeled VIP version of a Bombardier CRJ200 regional airliner will be operated by Macau-based Jet Asia.
Eurocopter announced the sale of three EC 155s to the Royal Thai Police. Cessna reported an order from Chinese authorities for three Citation Sovereigns to be used for airways calibration work.
Expectations Still High in Asia
The Chinese market alone is expected to generate orders for 300 new business jets over the next 10 years, said Bombardier regional vice president David Dixon at an Asian Aerospace press conference. The Canadian airframer believes that this market, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, could grow to 2,100 new aircraft over the next 20 years.
“China is embracing business aviation, realizing that it is bringing business and investment into the country,” Dixon said. Recently, Chinese authorities reduced the time it takes to get a flight permit for a Chinese-registered business aircraft (including Hong Kong and Macau) from six days to three hours, although foreign-
registered aircraft still face bureaucratic delays that make operations impractical. Dixon predicts that long-range business jets, such as the Global Express XRS, will emerge as the most popular aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region, where Bombardier claims a 25-percent market share.
India is another growing market for business jets. Bombardier predicts the country will take delivery of 250 aircraft over the next 10 years, helping to triple their numbers in Asia-Pacific to 1,400 by 2018.
According to the manufacturers at Asian Aerospace, Asia–and China in particular–has proved to have more resilient economies in the global economic downturn. Some companies have received orders from the region this year at a time when the markets in the U.S. and Europe are almost dormant.
Embraer also sees great potential for the business jet market in China, India and the wider Asia-Pacific region in light of the relatively small fleets found in these countries today compared with their gross domestic product. Luis Carlos Affonso, executive vice president for executive aircraft with the Brazilian manufacturer, attributed the company’s positive outlook for that part of the world to factors such as its export-driven economies, Japan’s recovery and China’s investment-led economy, as well as India’s booming service and manufacturing sectors.
“Over the past 18 months, we delivered six Legacy 600s to the region, which will be joined by two more this year, representing 10 percent of our global fleet,” Affonso said. To meet increasing demand, the company has set up sales offices in Beijing and Singapore.
Capt. Manfred Baudzus, Embraer’s Singapore-based regional sales director, was instrumental in bringing the first larger-cabin business jets to Asia in 1992. “From my operational experience in this region, I believe the Legacy 600 is well suited to the typical Asian mission profile,” he said. “The generous cabin is just what Asian companies look for.”
However, some speakers and delegates at the Asian Business Aviation conference in Hong Kong agreed that the anticipated strong growth in business aviation in China should be viewed with caution. “We need to learn from the boom-and-bust experience in Russia,” said Andrew Hoy, aircraft trading managing director with ExecuJet Aviation, referring to the fact that a number of aircraft only recently brought into the fast-growing Russian economy quickly came back onto the market when the nation started to feel the effects of the credit crunch.