At last year’s ABACE, the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA, Booth H1402) announced strategic initiatives in working with Asia’s regulators and airport authorities in tandem with the Chinese government’s 13th Five-year plan. Through dialogs with airport authorities and regulators from a voice representing more than 150 members, and growing, AsBAA reported steady achievements on improved regulatory response and industry conditions over the last 12 months.
Jenny Lau, who was appointed AsBAA chairwoman last year, reports that the association is seeing evidence of the government's commitment to the sector. She noted, “Last year, the Chinese government expressed a commitment to growing general aviation and leveraging this growth as an economic driver. Since that time, there have been several official announcements that are encouraging for our sector. AsBAA has observed the overall supply structure optimizing, which has resulted in positive outcomes for manufacturers, operators, management companies, and service providers."
To further support that growth and provide a resource for operators, AsBAA has enhanced its regional chapters. For example, the chapter in Mainland China now includes four subcommittees to better represent members in each sector. She added, "In 2018-19, we will continue to help our members realize the significant opportunities that exist under the Belt and Road Initiative.”
AsBAA’s longer term strategies focus on campaigns on the Pearl River Delta (PRD) to address capacity issues at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). The campaigns targeted major cities such as Macau, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, and included discussions on heliport links to potentially relieve some of the capacity constraints at HKIA.
AsBAA members also reported an increased in total charter flight hours of 30 percent on a year-over-year basis, as well as a significant increase in the number of movements in western and southern China in 2017, a trend that aligns with the plans laid out in the 13th Five-year plan. Outside of Greater China, AsBAA is working with the civil aviation authorities of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines on infrastructure and regulatory improvements. At the recent Singapore Airshow 2018, AsBAA signed an MOU to participate and advise on infrastructure plans at Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur.
In contrast to AsBAA’s longer term objectives, there have also been other more immediate improvements in the region’s operating conditions as a result of the association’s efforts. At HKIA, slot issues have been alleviated from previous near-critical conditions. The availability of night slots has increased steadily and incrementally, to nine, from the original five. Penalties are now tail-specific and no longer operator-specific, a general relief that is certainly welcomed by operators. Research and noise data presented to authorities recently led to the direct acceptance (in some cases, special exceptions) of the Bombardier Global 5000/6000, Gulfstream G550, and G650 for use at night at HKIA.
Lau said, “The new Board of Directors expressed their commitment to enhance AsBAA’s local and regional capabilities, building influence with the authorities and having a clear voice to represent the needs of our members. We are encouraged to see that following these talks at a country and regional level, we have managed to push our agenda forward as the voice of the industry, which is shaping infrastructure plans around the region. For some years this has been an effort in relationship building to establish trust and credibility. We have now reached that critical point and we are seeing visible progress in Greater China and Southeast Asia. These are encouraging signs and evidence that members working together with combined resources create greater influence. We urge other industry stakeholders to support AsBAA’s efforts, which drive positive change for the entire industry.”
Association Looks to the Future
With its campaign schedules packed full with initiatives focusing on regulatory and corporate bodies, AsBAA continues to find resources to address one of the region’s oldest problems: the shortage of human capital in aviation. AsBAA “Discovery” (Student Chapter), launched in 2015 and rebranded last year is one of the newest initiatives run by members and volunteers in partnership with an ever growing number of prestigious educational institutions in Asia.
Sarah Kalmeta, the AsBAA board member who is leading the Discovery initiative, said, “If you look at the NBAA’s ‘Careers in Business Aviation’ program, that’s what Discovery is modeled after. We’re building up formal partnerships and a brand. Most recently, we’ve partnered with AVIC foundation partnership, Embry-Riddle Asia, and the Hong Kong Aviation Academy. Discovery really provides a platform for aviation-minded students to showcase their skills to prospective employers and for the employers to tap into some of the great things about working with the youth, including their familiarity with today’s rapidly growing tools in technology.”
Embry-Riddle Asia has its campus in Singapore. Avic Foundation is part of Avic General, China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (Caiga), the state-owned general aviation organization that was established to contribute to the development of the industry in China. Hong Kong Aviation Academy is under the Hong Kong Airport Authority, although it may be an independent institution down the road.
Kalmeta continued, “Discovery provides a wealth of opportunities. For students, they include lunch time talks and informal career interviews that they could have much earlier in their career path. Acquiring research and internship experience at a variety of business aviation companies and understanding the common issues that our industry is facing are only the beginning. Discovery is on its way to expanding to secondary schools, and will offer summer camps, certificate programs, and industry professional courses in ‘modules,’ and eventually even job placements with its members. We’re committed about building a presence on behalf of Asian business aviation for our members and the industry.”
AsBAA Discovery will host this year’s career fair “Discovery Day” at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Previous Discovery Days were held at the prestigious Hong Kong University and Chinese University of Hong Kong. “AsBAA is engaging at all levels of education and planting the seeds,” said Kalmeta. “The program is opening doors and bridging the gap between talent and industry. We're a platform that's increasing value for our members while looking out for our industry. There’s a lot to look forward to and we encourage any interested member or party to come and work with us.”