Dassault is here on the static display exhibiting three Falcon business jets–the Falcon 7X, Falcon 2000 and Falcon 900. The Paris-based manufacturer is seeing the market maturing in China.
“In recent years, Asia has accounted for an average of 15 percent in our sales, despite some variability,” Olivier Villa, Dassault’s senior v-p of civil aircraft, said. Last year was “a bit quiet.” One reason, according to Villa, was the change of administration in China, which caused many potential customers to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach, he explained.
Nevertheless, China is still the number one country for Falcon sales in the region. “Malaysia has been rather active; Taiwan’s potential still has to materialize; and Australia is our fourth largest market in Asia-Pacific,” Villa went on. Indonesia, often referred to as the next booming country for business aviation, is still at the “promising” stage.
Indian sales has been “abnormally sluggish” for the last three years. “We found there everything that makes the ups and downs of our industry–most recently, a currency devaluation and a change of government–but the Bangalore air show in February gave us some hope,” Villa said.
A remarkable evolution seems to be going on in China. Among Falcon customers in the country, the proportion of wealthy individuals used to be higher than in other regions. “This is moving to a more usual balance,” Villa said. In an emerging market, early customers want to buy the largest and more expensive business jets, without analyzing their own needs. This is changing, he added. “Now, Chinese customers are making more sensible purchases, rather than thinking only of their image and reputation,” he said.
Falcon promoters are seeing this as a favorable trend, as they say Falcons are more efficient. This is already translating into some demand for the Falcon 2000LX, as opposed to the top-of-the-range Falcon 7X, Villa said. In other words, the “no plane, no gain” campaign in China seems to have started naturally.
As for the in-development Falcon 8X, a notable (but undisclosed) proportion of the existing orders come from the Asia Pacific region because the need for long-haul aircraft will remain predominant, Villa explained. The program is carrying on with the flight-test campaign. Meanwhile, Dassault’s engineers are preparing for the first flight of the Falcon 5X. Villa said they are on schedule for June.
Dassault has marketing offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi. Service centers, under partnership agreements, can be found in Mumbai, New Delhi, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sidney. Four logistic hubs support them for spare parts in Singapore, Sidney, Beijing and Shanghai.