At a panel session held on the second day of the ABACE show, participants had some encouraging news for business aviation’s ability to gain access to airports in the Asia-Pacific region, but also some caveats.
The session, Airport Access and Preparing for Major Global Events, was moderated by Sarah Kalmeta, director of international business-south APAC at Universal Weather and Aviation and an AsBAA board member; Carlos Schattenkirchner, UAS operations director China; Hiroshi Higashiyama, managing director Universal Aviation Japan and a JBAA board member; and Ed Dicampli, COO Helicopter Association International.
The key point mentioned by all of the panel participants is that while business aviation in Asia is becoming more accepted, aircraft operators must be patient and willing to put up with roadblocks. “Business aviation is a fast track to the art of letting go,” said Kalmeta, adding that many of the factors involved are “out of your control.” In most Asian countries, business aircraft come at the bottom of the list, after airlines and cargo carriers. Rules and procedures are constantly changing, and it is imperative to use a qualified handling company, especially one that has good relationships with the applicable government authorities.
The panelists covered upcoming events in Asia and pointed out that different requirements come with each event, depending whether it is political or something with broader appeal such as the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan. “There are different levels of high-traffic events,” said Schattenkirchner. At some events, business aircraft aren’t welcomed, while other events are in locales where authorities will roll out the red carpet.
Another important factor, he added, is that travelers must consider more than just the airport side of the trip. Ground transportation may be a factor with sports events, with crushing traffic during finals or closing ceremonies, making getting to the airport difficult. Planning ahead is of the utmost importance.
Higashiyama noted the large crowds expected for a rare event in Japan, the enthronement of the new emperor on October 22. There will be restrictions of business aviation traffic at some airports, with limited parking available as representatives from 198 countries and international organizations travel to Tokyo. But there are 94 airports in Japan, and many will be able to handle overflow traffic from these events.
Business aircraft operators should also be aware of a new rule in Japan that requires specific documentation of efforts operators have undertaken to prevent objects falling from their aircraft. The rule took effect on March 15 for charter operators and March 30 for all general aviation.
The Helicopter Association International’s Dicampli pointed out the importance of helicopters for health and safety of the public, likely an important factor in the rapid growth of the helicopter fleet in the Asia-Pacific region. The association has more than 3,000 members in 88 countries. “We are serving the public good,” he said.