Having established an office in Hong Kong just under two years ago, aircraft broker Jetcraft is well positioned to exploit the burgeoning opportunities in the Greater China market for business and private aviation. But in practice the U.S.-based group’s regional headquarters is actively making aircraft deals happen across a far wider segment of the Asia Pacific market. Jetcraft Asia president David Dixon told AIN that his team’s territory spans an area from Mongolia in the north, to Melbourne in the south, and from Rangoon to Guam.
“Generally speaking, the world market is still coming out of a deep recession,” he commented. “But in Asia the bigger the airplane, the smaller the problem because the appeal here is for larger cabins and longer range. Smaller aircraft such as Hawkers, Cessnas and Learjets still struggle here but there are niche requirements for them in places like the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.”
A quick glance at the geography of the vast Asia Pacific region makes it evident why range and cabin comfort would be at a premium in this part of the world. “Flying across Indonesia, for instance, is just about the same as flying from New York to San Francisco,” said Dixon.
Put together, the markets for pre-owned aircraft in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia are of just about an equal magnitude to that of Greater China. But it is China’s singular demand potential from such a low base that has set it apart in the industry’s aspirations.
Meanwhile, Jetcraft’s team of brokers spread across four continents has been busy moving aircraft between owners on a truly global scale. For instance, recently it sold a jet registered in Indonesia to a new owner in South America and it has also helped to export aircraft from Malaysia to Kazakhstan, from the U.S. to Malaysia, from Macau to Mexico and from China into Russia.
“We are trying to give confidence to people in the West that buying aircraft from here [Asia] is not a risk,” explained Dixon. “There have been concerns over issues such as maintenance, but we’ve helped customers to see that exporting [from Asia] can, in fact, be more complicated than importing [to Asia]. Some of the exporting processes are fairly new because until now aircraft have only been inbound and [exporting] hasn’t been common or necessary. A lack of knowledge [of the rules] is the main factor. Jetcraft has added value in this respect and we have a broader reach than most with offices in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the U.S. and Europe.”
According to Dixon, the process for getting aircraft into China has become more straightforward over the past decade. He said that officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China now have a greater understanding of business aviation and regulations have to some degree been adapted to take into account its different circumstances.
Another welcome development in China has been the marked increase in the number of operators who can manage aircraft on behalf of their owners. “The need [for aircraft management operators] is being met slowly,” said Dixon. “The [Chinese regulatory] system is having to move very quickly in its terms [to authorize the new operators] and, in some cases, the change has been slower than expected [by the industry].”
In February, Jetcraft (Booth 712) completed the absorption of ExecuJet Aviation’s aircraft trading division. This acquisition has significantly expanded the scope of its international sales activity.