Business aircraft broker Jetcraft announced the appointment of Diana Chou as chairwoman of its Hong Kong-based Asia division. Chou, who previously founded and ran Bombardier distributor Sino Private Aviation, will oversee Jetcraft’s activities across Asia.
“Diana joins at a highly opportune time for Jetcraft in Asia,” said the U.S.-based group’s president Chad Anderson. “The region is clearly an important one for business aviation and is set to grow in importance in the medium and long term. Diana’s unique experience and background will help us provide clients with the services and aircraft that they demand, not only in Asia but worldwide.”
After several years of double-digit growth, Chou has seen Asian demand for aircraft has declining somewhat as government austerity programs and concerns over economic trends such as declining oil prices prompt prospective buyers to delay decisions. “Jetcraft’s advantage is that we are moving aircraft to all regions of the world, and in Asia we are still seeing aircraft owners needing to upgrade their equipment and opting for preowned models,” Chou told AIN. “Asian customers, and especially those in Mainland China, are becoming a lot more global [in terms of their business and personal interests] and some of these people need a second aircraft, with one based in the U.S. or China.”
Apart from China, Chou sees countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, becoming more active in aircraft transactions. Larger, longer-range models still account for most of the demand across the Asia-Pacific region. In her view, even though luxury brands generally have seen sales down by 20 to 30 percent in Asia, demand for aircraft has not declined to this degree.
“There is still a lot of liquidity in the marketplace, and many Asian buyers now feel that if they wait they will get a better deal,” said Chou, while adding that across the board pre-owned aircraft prices have generally stabilized.
While acknowledging the Chinese government’s efforts to encourage austerity, Chou argued that this by no means applies across the board, with only some industries being “pin-pointed” by the campaign to discourage perceived extravagance. “In fact, the government is encouraging private enterprises to go global, and for this they need private jets,” she commented. “But overall the Chinese market has slowed down and some people, such as real estate developers, do not want to be seen in private aircraft."
Many aircraft owned by Chinese customers are still not registered in China, mainly because the process for doing so is still far from user-friendly. Chou estimated that barely 40 percent of private jet use by Chinese owners involves flights within China. In one case, Jetcraft helped a Hong Kong-based customer to take advantage of significant tax incentives to base and operate its aircraft in Malaysia.
Jetcraft, which has more than 20 sales offices around the world, feels it can provide buyers and sellers with an advantage based on its extensive legal and technical expertise that can facilitate often complex international transactions. “We work with all manufacturers on behalf of our customers and over time we’ve built very deep relationships,” she said. “In some cases, we are now helping the second generation of a family to buy or sell and aircraft.”