U.S. jet maker Gulfstream says Asia strongest market

08:12, June 10, 2010      

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U.S.-based Gulfstream, the world' s top manufacturer of business jet, said here Wednesday that Asia, in particular China, has emerged as one of the strongest markets for business aviation thanks to years of economic growth and wealth accumulation.

"When we look at the market for China and the region, we see considerable upward potential," said here Roger Sperry, Gulfstream 's vice president for international sales, on the eve of the Asian Business Aviation exhibition in Macao.

Sperry attributed rosy projections to such factors as strong wealth creation in the last decade, economic growth, simplified flight-planning procedures in China's mainland, a commitment by the mainland to build another 97 airports by 2020, cooperation of the General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China in the certification and registration of business aircraft, and new financing sources, among others.

"The market is robust, the business culture is dynamic, and more companies are discovering the flexibility and advantages provided by business aviation," said Sperry.

Asia was the most robust market for business jets last year, growing 15 percent from a year earlier, according to aerospace analyst firm Teal Group. That outpaced Europe at 13 percent and the United States at just 2 percent.

Gulfstream has seen its sales shift from 60 percent North American to 60 percent international in the last few years, with much of the shift toward Asian markets, said Sperry.

But not all were rosy. He said there were still challenges in selling aircraft in Asia.

The number of commercial access airports in Asia was somewhere between 100 and 160 in comparison to some 3,000 accessible to business jets in the United States, said Sperry.

"The infrastructure -- airports, ramp space, business-aviation terminals and service facilities -- is increasing, but is still being outpaced by demand for aviation services," he said.

Gulfstream, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York-listed General Dynamics, develops, manufactures, markets and services advanced business jets. Gulfstream has produced nearly 1,900 aircraft for customers around the world since 1958. By now, more than 70 percent of its jets had been sold in the United States. In 2009, Gulfstream manufactured 94 business jets.

So far, Gulfstream had installed a total of 113 business jets in East Asia and Oceanian countries, accounting for only 6 percent of Gulfstream's jets. Of the 113, Chinese mainland has 17, Hong Kong has 22 aircraft and Taiwan has four.



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