NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our Corporate Jet Investor One Minute Week newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please click here.
If you wanted to, you could come back from ABACE feeling pretty depressed.
It was a really well organised show, with fun parties and a few orders, but China’s business jet market is clearly not booming. The Goldrush mentality where some people felt that China’s business aviation market was a short cut to riches has gone. It is tough at the moment.
But if you are prepared to look deeper there are some very encouraging signs. You just need to think long term.
The strongest business aviation countries are the ones with strong general aviation cultures. The US has more than 225,000 general aviation aircraft. Australia has more than 15,000. Brazil has more than 12,000.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China says the country has 1,786 general aviation aircraft. This is less than the number of aircraft registered in US state of Maryland.
But the Chinese general aviation fleet is growing by at least 20% each year. This is one of the reasons that there were light sport aircraft at ABACE for the first time.
If you look at the base, there is a lot to be excited about.
Two years ago the CAAC made it easier to get private licenses and there is a boom in people learning to fly. More than 10 cities have created general aviation plans. The Asian Business Aviation Association is trying to build momentum by building ties with universities to highlight business aviation as a career. NBAA and ASBAA invited hundreds of students to the last day of ABACE.
Six years ago at a conference we ran in China, one speaker predicted that China could become the biggest business aviation market by 2025. He is out by at least a couple of decades.
But every time an MBA student meets an ASBAA member or someone books a taster flying lesson in Gongzhuling, Ningbo or Yuci this becomes closer to happening.