With the release at ABACE 2018 of its Asia Pacific Business Jet Fleet Report YE 2017 and the publication in February of its Asia Pacific Civil Helicopter Fleet Report 2017 at Heli-Expo, the rotor world’s annual U.S. gathering, Asian Sky Group (ASG) has affirmed its position as the region’s most intrepid business and general aviation data specialist.
Putting aside the numbers contained in its latest annual accounts, for ASG, “2017 was a strong year across all business units—probably our strongest year yet,” said Jeffrey Lowe, managing director of the Hong Kong consultancy.
The publications are an outgrowth of ASG’s business aviation consulting services, advising on sales, acquisitions, and operational issues. In addition to its individual and fleet clients, last year, ASG’s market research and consulting business handled “seven or eight fairly significant projects [now] in different phases,” including feasibility studies and economic and risk analyses, Lowe said. On the aircraft sales side, 2017 was “our best year,” as the company handled 16 aircraft transactions. Asian Sky Media, Lowe said, has also done “very well,” and in addition to the dozen reports and regional business aviation news magazines scheduled for publication this year, it now provides marketing services to the business aviation community.
Similarly, business aviation in China continues its expansion, as the new fleet report documents. “The old days of austerity and worrying about public perception…are gone,” said Lowe. “The big issues these days [for aircraft buyers] are financing options, how do I use my corporation’s capital to best effect, where do I base the aircraft, and concerns about registration and [how that affects] access. The classic Chinese buyer today versus five years ago has changed considerably. Today they shop around for management companies. They’re much better educated.”
An active AsBAA member, ASG cemented its leadership in defining the scale of the region’s business aviation assets and activity with the release last fall of its China General Aviation Report 2017. The first accounting of its kind, the review tabulates China’s general aviation (GA) fleet and infrastructure, including all aircraft, airports, training facilities, and CAAC-approved companies and operators.
“Our future and growth depends on the growth of the [business aviation] industry, and we try to take a proactive role in its development,” said Lowe. “The reports are free, and making that information available helps the industry as a whole, and becomes data AsBAA can use in arguments with authorities—with a conviction that these numbers have been qualified and are accurate. AsBAA has been very important,” Lowe continued. “As it’s gained a foothold and gained more members and clout, it’s finally able to become a voice authorities will listen to.”
As for the report’s findings: “No real big surprises: infrastructure is woefully lacking in the region,” said Lowe. “As we all know, there are not enough airports, not enough FBOs, or even flight service centers where you can file flight plans.” That puts a double squeeze on business aviation operations because “priority is on the commercial side. Business aviation is an afterthought, or not thought of at all,” said Lowe.
Here in Shanghai Asian Sky Media has its own display (Booth H2706), and ASG is also sharing space with partner company Avion Pacific (Booth P218), a Shenzhen-based general aviation company. ASG is also releasing at ABACE the latest edition of its regional business aviation magazine, Asian Sky Quarterly, 2018 Q1.
Looking ahead, Lowe sounds optimistic. “General aviation is under the spotlight these days,” he said. “The weight of the government is behind it, with a very aggressive plan to develop it within China.” Lowe cited among other indicators plans to build 500 general aviation airports during the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020). ASG’s infrastructure report captured that official zeal in a chart tracking the number of government policies relating to general aviation adopted each year. “Where you might have gotten two or three in previous years, in 2016 there were about 37,” Lowe noted. “The pace of development is quite extraordinary for China.”