Business aircraft operators frustrated by the lack of space, inconvenient access and uncompetitive prices at key airports in the Asia-Pacific region now have an alternative with the opening by Aviation Concepts of a new FBO at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Aviation Concepts is offering landing approvals in hours rather than days, with technical stop turnarounds in just 45 minutes and at rates that are a fraction of those charged in places such as Hong Kong and Tokyo.
The 100,000-sq-ft facility at the former military base complements the U.S. company’s existing operation on the Pacific island of Guam. This was set up expressly to serve operators needing an alternative to Tokyo.
According to Aviation Concepts CEO Terry Habeck, the lack of support infrastructure for business aircraft in Asia is resulting in worsening operational headaches and rising costs. In his view this situation is set to worsen with the anticipated new aircraft deliveries into the region over the next few years coupled with the slow pace of new FBO developments in that part of the world.
Much of the traffic using Subic Bay will be heading to or from Hong Kong, which is about 80 minutes’ flight time from there. According to Habeck, the business aviation ramp at Hong Kong International Airport is full much of the time and there is practically no remaining hangar capacity. Subic Bay, where there is no airline activity to constrain capacity, can also provide overspill capacity for Singapore (120 minutes’ flight time away) and Tokyo (180 minutes).
“It can take three to five days to get [permission to fly] into Hong Kong,” stated Habeck. “Then it’s $4,000 just to land and you can’t get a hangar, but if you could it would cost up to $30,000 per month.” Many operators flying into Hong Kong also want to fly into mainland China, where airport infrastructure for business aircraft is even more restricted. Habeck claimed that aircraft parked outside at Hong Kong can be damaged by corrosive chemicals nearby factories emit into the atmosphere.
According to Habeck’s estimates, the typical handling cost for a Bombardier Challenger flying into Hong Kong would be $3,200 (with towing charged additionally at $250 per move), and clearing customs and immigration would cost an additional $600. At Subic Bay, the handling charge from Aviation Concepts would be just $200. As of press time, the cost of jet-A was approximately $3.50 per gallon compared with $5.31 in Hong Kong. Hangar space is available at Subic Bay for around $5,000 per month.
Aviation Concepts is already providing line maintenance at Subic Bay and the company has been in talks with aircraft manufacturers with a view to achieving authorized service center status. Habeck said that the Philippines offers an excellent source of qualified, industrious and English-speaking personnel.
The new Subic Bay base, which is IS-BAO and Argus Platinum approved, already has half a dozen aircraft using it regularly and two more are due to arrive for the first time in August. The FBO can accommodate about 20 aircraft simultaneously.