Singapore Air Show

Honda Aircraft Aims To Expand Asia Bizjet Interest

 - February 6, 2018, 9:33 PM
After two decades in development, the HondaJet was FAA type-certified in 2015. The jet features distinctive overwing-mounted turbofans.

Honda Aircraft president and CEO Michimasa Fujino is trying to change the attitude of business jet buyers in the Asia-Pacific region, but especially in China, hoping to convince potential owners that the light HondaJet is an ideal fit.

Interest in business jets in Asia tends to favor large-cabin jets, and that is where most sales have trended. “We’re looking to penetrate this market by introducing a very efficient jet,” Fujino said. And to that end, Honda Aircraft brought two HondaJets to Singapore, one for display at the Singapore Airshow (Chalet CD65) and another for customer demonstrations at Seletar Aerospace Park. This is the first time that Honda Aircraft has exhibited at the Singapore Airshow.

Honda Aircraft’s new China dealer, Honsan General Aviation of Guangzhou, will play a key role helping spread the word about the benefits of light jet flying in China, by setting up alternative ownership opportunities for interested buyers. What this will look like is helping potential buyers, especially the younger generation that don’t like to own expensive assets, to take advantage of charter, fractional share, and jet card opportunities. “This is ideal for the young entrepreneur,” he said. Honsan General Aviation will help manage its customers' aircraft and make all of these ownership opportunities available, Fujino explained. “We’re trying to create a new business model, and looking for a holistic way to expand.”

Fujino is encouraged at the rapid expansion of airports in China, but he also believes that, for traditional large-cabin jet owners, the six- to seven-seat HondaJet could be an efficient sporty adjunct for short trips with fewer passengers.

Honsan’s first HondaJet is due for delivery in the first quarter of 2019. Honda Aircraft (Chalet CD65) is expecting Chinese CAAC certification in early 2019.

Despite some retrenching in deliveries of new jets in China and the Asia-Pacific region, Fujino sees plenty of opportunity in Asia. “The perception of Chinese people for business jets is much stronger than I thought,” he said. And the Honda brand recognition helps, too, as potential buyers are comfortable and familiar with the company. “Not many people know the other aircraft manufacturers,” he said, “but they know Honda. We have very good trust from our customers.”

In three to five years, Fujino believes, the Asian market will account for 10 percent of the world’s business jet deliveries. “It’s a challenging target, but I think it’s an achievable target.”