Dispatch from the Road: Hong Kong and Shanghai
The image of private aircraft lined-up side-by-side on the tarmac of a private airport would lead most to assume they are in Las Vegas, Orlando, or Geneva. These are the standard NBAA/EBACE convention venues for those to view, buy, charter, or just dream about owning a jet.
However, last week the venue moved East to what has become the fastest growing place on earth for private aviation.
The static display was in full force and a buzz last week at the Asia Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai.
Over 100 exhibitors and thousands of attendees gathered in Shanghai to learn more about the Asian market with a strong focus on China. The show had been cancelled the past few years, though this year there was no chance of that happening.
Asia has seen business jet deliveries increase a staggering 133 percent over the past four years. All of this occurring during the worst global economic slump in 70 years. In the year 2000, Gulfstream had zero aircraft based in China. Today they have over 80. Furthermore, a third of all new Gulfstream aircraft are on order in Asia.
My co-worker Attila Papai and I spent two weeks in Hong Kong and then Shanghai seeing first hand the evidence of the world’s fastest growing region for aviation.
Here are some observations from the trip:
- The majority of private aircraft in Asia are all managed by companies based out of Hong Kong. Though several management companies are fast establishing themselves in mainland China.
- The Chinese are halfway to having seat belts in taxis. They have the straps, but no buckle.
- Unlike the United States and Europe where aircraft tend to be managed by many different companies with 5-10 aircraft, the Asian market tends to have about six key management companies with on average 25 aircraft in their fleet and plans for rapid expansion by the end of this year.
- The Shanghai Hilton has arguably one of the greatest breakfast buffets in the world. There is nothing quite like a breakfast buffet with a quality miso soup and corn flakes.
- Due to its long distance from major cities and the practical desire to limit fuel stops, most aircraft in Asia are Heavy Jets.
- Unlike fortune cookies, Dim Sum is not just an American idea, but an actual traditional Chinese meal.
Walking through the dispatch centers and touring the Asian private aircraft offices, one thing that struck me was how similar it is to an American or European dispatch center. No matter where in the world, dispatch centers all tend to look the same with some minor variations. Aviation is truly a global industry with Asia being no exception.
We look forward to continued growth in the Far East and collaborating with the different companies and coordinating their flights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Congratulations to NBAA on its success at ABACE. We hope it will continue for many years to come.
Buckle up Asia (or at last pull the strap down) it is going to be quite the ride.