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Next stop: China

(China Daily)

09:20, April 28, 2012

An array of jets at the Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai at the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in early April. [Yong Kai / for China Daily]

At a major aviation conference in Shanghai in early April, a buzz filled the exhibition hall. Though there were at least 30 passenger jets on display from manufacturers such as Airbus SAS, Boeing Co, Bombardier Inc and Dassault Aviation, the hoopla came mostly from the sellers and buyers.

Nearly everyone, from representatives of industry giants and eager buyers, to aviation fans, all were constantly uttering the word "exciting" during the three-day show at the Hongqiao International Airport. Excited about the 19-seater ACJ318 from Airbus that comes with a champagne-tinged lounge room. Excited about the Boeing business jet, which has a bedroom with a king-size bed.

Mostly, however, what got most of those in the jet industry excited was what they see in China: major potential for growth.

"We planted one of the first seeds of business aviation in China, and right now, the seed has begun to sprout," says Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the US National Business Aviation Association, a co-host of the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition.

The recent rise of the private jet industry in China is timely. Private jet orders have slumped in the United States and Europe following the financial crisis of 2008, forcing at least 30 manufacturers of business and private jets to attract more and more buyers from the second biggest economy in the world.

As has often been written, the number of affluent Chinese is growing as the economy expands and the industry, helped by the central government's recent approval of less stringent regulations on its airspace, is looking to take advantage of the boom.

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