Business Aviation Development In China


NBAA President Ed Bolen and Carey Matthews, general manager of Shanghai Hawker Pacific told the NBAA convention in Las Vegas that business aviation in China is progressing but still in its infancy, and baby steps are serving as important milestones for future growth. Bolen noted that the country’s roughly 180 airports are few for a country of China’s size but “they’ve built 100 of those in the last decade and are building 12-15 [new airports] per year, now.” Matthews, who operates an FBO and MRO at Shanghai, says business has increased enough to warrant the addition of a second hangar. Both men said the steps made so far by aviation authorities in China were small but important for setting a foundation for future development. The men said that while sales were slowing, other variables kept their business aviation outlook optimistic.

Bolen said the government has set aviation development as a priority and the presence of ABACE may be helping to push regulatory development, sometimes leading by example. “First we broke ground by landing a turboprop [at ABACE] and we were enormously pleased to have helicopters fly into our second exhibition,” Bolen said. Matthews said that operations at Shanghai are up nearly 17 percent over last year and the overall trend was positive. The men said that the country’s aviation infrastructure was still weak but that was due in part to a lack of indigenous traffic. At the same time, both men were pleased with the maturation of how the aircraft that are already there are now being used. “Operators create the industry,” Matthews said, “and in that area business is doing very well.” Matthews emphasized that the perception of business aircraft in China is changing. Originally purchased as items of luxury and status, the market is maturing, Matthews says, and he’s seeing more use of aircraft as tools of business used to make money. And that, he believes, will put the jets that are there to use more often, expanding the market.