“This is a milestone in the history of business aviation,” said NBAA president Ed Bolen during yesterday’s press luncheon, which heralded the launch of ABACE 2013 in partnership with the Shanghai Airport Authority. “We’re delighted to be back in Shanghai,” He added, referring to the fact the first ABACE was held in Shanghai back in 2005. “With that initial show, we planted a seed,” Bolen said. “Thanks to a visionary number of leaders here in Shanghai and throughout the Chinese government, we’ve been able to see that seedling grow.”
Evidence of that growth is this year’s ABACE show, with 33 airplanes on static display (up from 27 last year), more than 180 exhibitors (up from 150), a 28-percent increase in display space and a double-digit jump in attendance to 6,284 registrations on the first day. “It’s exciting for us to be here at a time when Asia, led by China, has established itself as the fastest-growing market for business aviation in the world,” Bolen said.
Business aviation in China is not growing by happenstance, he explained. “It has been thanks to visionary leadership, careful planning and a lot of hard work by people involved at all levels of the government and all levels of the CAAC and everyone in industry.”
China’s decision to include business aviation in its 12th five-year plan was a wise one, Bolen said. “[This is] because throughout history great economies have been built on great transportation systems. In the 21st century, the mode of transportation is, appropriately, aviation. Aviation is the only mode of transportation that moves at the speed of business. People today seem to think that it’s computers that are shrinking the world. But computers merely connect people with information. It is airplanes, particularly business airplanes, that connect people to people.”
Jing Ming, vice president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, celebrated the organization’s longtime partnership with NBAA. Jing expressed confidence in Bolen’s prediction that ABACE will double in size in the next three to five years.
Jing sees three key trends with business aviation in China and Shanghai. First, those who use business aircraft and services are shifting to pure commerce and away from buying aircraft as status symbols, he said. Second, the Chinese government and state council are helping to stimulate and also create a regulatory structure to support business aviation. And, third, the growth model of aviation is moving up the value chain to be more than just a provider of transportation services by embracing business aviation’s many capabilities.
To help promote business aviation in Shanghai, the Shanghai Airport Authority will help build a new hangar and a 600,000-sq-ft exhibition center at Hongqiao Airport and a new FBO and business aircraft stands at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport, Jing said. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Airport Authority is working with air traffic control officials to gain more capacity to handle business aviation operations.
“Shanghai Airport will provide suitable and favorable conditions for the development of business aviation,” Jing said. “We are constructing these facilities to ensure that our services and the infrastructure will satisfy the future needs of business aviation operations in Shanghai. I would like the business aviation operators in Shanghai to enjoy the value brought by the expansion of the business aviation market in Shanghai.”o