No-one attending Corporate Jet Investor Asia would claim that the Asian business jet market is going through a boom at the moment. That’s despite the record numbers attending and the fact that the majority of delegates were fairly optimistic (68%) or very optimistic (19%) about the industry’s prospects.
David Dixon, president of Jetcraft Asia, said that he can still see Asia becoming the second biggest region for corporate jets after North America, and his comments were repeated on several panels. The region has massive potential and pent-up demand for aircraft.
There was a lot of discussion about tariffs, reduced demand in China and infrastructure issues (something that has been a key theme of every conference for the past nine years). But there is also rising interest from customers in Southeast Asia (some of whom are benefitting greatly from the China/US tariffs as companies change suppliers).
The lack of slots at airports and the high quality of many Asian airlines means that airlines are often a serious competitor. “I have customers who typically fly from Malaysia to China by airline, even though they would rather use their own jet,” said one speaker. But in something of a contrast, Nils Uellendahl, Design Director of the Shanghai studio of BMW Designworks (which has designed the interiors of many business jets as well as the first-class suites of Singapore Airlines) gave an inspiring presentation looking at raising passenger experiences.
Volatility can also create opportunities. China should soon see a big fall in the number of business jet operators – one operator estimates that there are more than 20 aircraft operators’ certificates for sale – which should help make the market less competitive.
And as Steve Wilford, senior partner from Control Risks, said: “the need to be on the ground quickly in more-obscure locations for face-to-face meetings is actually becoming more necessary.”
That helped cheer up the 6% of delegates who were very pessimistic on the first morning.