Private planes: a growing market struggles to thrive in China

14:11, October 28, 2010      

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Seven rented planes and a private round trip - that's what awaits the winners of China's most respected entrepreneurs for their awards ceremony in Beijing at the coming weekend.

While they have no problems creating stunning fortunes, China's super-rich still find it hard to enjoy flying private planes like their western counterparts.

"We'd like to show respect to those who devoted themselves to society. Moreover, it will definitely be a wonderful experience to have a trip on a private plane," said Rupert Hoogewerf, sponsor of the prize and founder of the Hurun Rich List of China's super-wealthy.

News reports said that China expects to open up its low-altitude airspace in a few flying-restricted zones on a trial basis.

That will trigger dreams of owning a private plane among the super-rich, say experts. In fact, general aviation-related stocks have already benefited from such expectations, although no official document has been released yet.

"The news has spread quickly and there is great interest among the rich," said an official surnamed Li with the Civil Aviation Flying College of China in Guanghan in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The university is authorized to train private jet pilots for their licenses. Li said that private jets were convenient and flexible in taking off and landing, besides being a delightful experience in flying for the pilot and passengers.

Yet there are some big problems. Pointing at two private jets waiting on the field, Li said, "Confined by the complicated set of procedures and restrictions, they've been waiting all day to take off."

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