Aircraft trader Jetcraft Corporation last month opened a new office in Hong Kong, creating a new division called Jetcraft Asia to better support clients in this part of the world. According to co-owner and board member Jahid Fazal-Karim, this is the right time to get established in the region to take advantage of an expected increase in demand for pre-owned aircraft.
“From our new office in Hong Kong, we will be able to best represent client interests in Asia,” commented Fazal-Karim. “Traditionally, the Asian market has favored new business aircraft. However, we predict a growing market for pre-owned aircraft, particularly in China, within the next five years. Locally registered aircraft are likely to remain in China since transferring registration in-country is generally simpler than importing and registering aircraft.”
In fact, Jetcraft, which is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been active in Asia for some time, but without an established presence in the region. Here at the ABACE show, it is displaying a Bombardier Global 5000 that it is offering for sale. In addition to its U.S. headquarters and its new office in Hong Kong, the 50-year-old company also has offices in Basel and Zurich in Switzerland, as well as in Dubai and Moscow. It also wants to open an office in Shanghai
Meanwhile, Jetcraft is calling on banks to work more collaboratively with the business aviation industry to support growth in the sector. According to Fazal-Karim, it has been increasingly difficult to obtain credit because of the worldwide economic downturn. In his view, only high-net-worth-individuals or companies that are asset rich, such as AAA-rated entities, are able to secure loans to buy aircraft these days.
“Clients who don’t need financing are offered loans,” Fazal-Karim told AIN. “People with good business models who want to make fleet orders and can show decent earnings can’t get financing. There should be more availability for loans. Banks need to fund businesses.”
Fazal-Karim speaks with authority on the industry. His company posted its best ever yearly results for 2011 with 54 aircraft transactions. Of these, 20 percent came from the U.S., with half of the rest originating in Asia and 60 percent of those coming from the Greater China region.
“There is lots of availability of airplanes at the lower end, but if people can’t get $6 million to $7 million to buy a used Hawker Beechcraft or Learjet, they will go back to charter or leasing. Banks are too risk averse,” said Fazal-Karim. He added that he had observed a slight uptick in the U.S. in the first quarter of this year, but cautioned that the market appetite is still for larger aircraft.