ABACE Convention News

ABACE Panels Hear of Airport Access, Finance Challenges

 - April 18, 2018, 3:27 AM

Airport access and aircraft financing, two critical business aviation issues in Asia-Pacific, were addressed at ABACE 2018 on Wednesday in a pair of panel discussions.

“We can see very good signs from authorities and the [Chinese] government that they are focused on improving the general aviation industry,” said Cynthia Zhang, in the Airport Access–Asia panel. But she acknowledged that many access hurdles remain, including long lead times for flight and landing approvals, altitude restrictions, limited landing and parking slots, and limits on the number of flights within country by foreign-registered aircraft. On the bright side, she noted Beijing is building a general aviation airport slated to open in mid-2019, which will have ample parking as well as an FBO and MRO services.

In Hong Kong, “Parking is no longer an issue,” for business aircraft, but the limited landing slot availability remains a problem, said Rita Tam, director of customer relations HKBAC, adding that stakeholders are working hard to increase their availability. Pete Bennett, manager, global trip support, Asia at World Fuel Services, noted the high prices operators face in the region, citing examples including $1,500 per day hangar charges at Narita and other Japanese airports; VIP terminal charges at Beijing that “can cost in excess of $10,000 per trip;” and navigation fees in Thai airspace that can run from $2.50 to $3 per nautical mile.

But financing for creditworthy regional aircraft buyers is readily available, according to the financiers in the panel discussion on Financing Assets & Infrastructure Investment Opportunities. Chris Partridge of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management noted “a very significant financing capacity” for buyers from global institutions, and to a lesser extent from regional sources.

Sharon Ho of UBS said, “In the last 18 months we’ve seen a lot of competitors come into the market” to offer aircraft loans. Buyers appear to be taking advantage of the underwriting opportunities.

“China will be this year our largest market outside the U.S.” for aircraft financing, said David Settergren of Global Jet Capital.