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By Darren McGoldrick
As the business aviation community sets its sights on the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) next week, there is a mood of caution in the air. Long pegged as the future of private aircraft ownership, Asia as a whole – and China in particular – has cooled a bit in the last year or so. Some of this levelling off is due to the economy whilst others point to government austerity initiatives that are causing private jet owners to maintain a low profile.
By contrast, ExecuJet in Asia sees the situation more as “glass half full” in the region. In just the past year, ExecuJet has added ten aircraft to our managed fleet in Southeast Asia and Australia alone, bringing our total to 18 overall in Asia Pacific. This growth is being fuelled by customer demand, as evidenced by a steady stream of enquiries.
Singapore is an Extension of ExecuJet into Asia
We see this regional growth continuing and ExecuJet has ambitious goals throughout Asia, but a growing managed fleet is only part of the story. That’s why, at ABACE this year, we are announcing a veteran with over two decades of experience in business aviation, Richard Porter, will head our new Singapore location. There he will lead a team that gives ExecuJet clients in Asia access to professionals who can offer a single point of contact for all ownership needs, from aircraft sourcing and price negotiation, to entry-into-service and ongoing operations.
The new Singapore location ensures clients receive the best advice when selecting an aircraft. Clients in Asia Pacific now have on-the-ground access to our concept of Total Aircraft Services, spanning charter operations, airworthiness and completions management and, of course, aircraft management services (ACM).
ACM offerings are a key component of business aviation. These essential services allow for the enjoyment of aircraft ownership with none of the time-consuming management responsibilities involved in aircraft operations. This includes such complex matters as aviation legislation compliance, aircraft maintenance coordination, staff recruitment and productive aircraft operation. It’s another way we enable our customers to take the hassle out of owning aircraft, so they can simply enjoy flying in it.
Bali’s New VIP Terminal
At this year’s ABACE, we will also announce the commencement of operations at a new purpose-built VIP terminal at Bali International Airport. The new 3,000m2 general aviation terminal includes a dedicated VIP area, meetings rooms and a business centre. Demand for our handling services in Bali has been strong since we began operating there in 2013 and we are seeing a growing number of large VIP aircraft and specialised charters. ExecuJet now directly handles 30 percent of all VIP movements in Bali, with the region popular for tourism, conferences and even as a stop on around-the-world tours.
Steady growth and traffic in Asia begs the question: Where are Asia-based customers travelling to? Regionally within Asia? To be sure. But they are also travelling increasingly on an international scale. We are seeing Asia-based clients frequent our various ExecuJet facilities around the world including Bali, Australia, Middle East and as far afield as Europe. Australia has become a major destination for our Asia-based clients, whether they seek business or pleasure. Real estate, financial services, retail, mining and resource extraction are all areas where such clients have made major direct foreign investment in Australia, necessitating visits for engineers, investors, executives, board members and employees – all strong usage cases for private aviation.
Although Australia itself is not a huge market for private aviation, it is growing, with interest in private aircraft ownership, aircraft management services and charter. According to Flightglobal Ascend Fleets database, there were 176 private jets of all types in service in Australia as of the start of this year, compared to 85 private jets in service, storage or on order ten years ago. Sydney is a major destination for high net-worth individuals (HNWI) throughout Asia, with flights and purchases there helping drive growth in the region’s business aviation sector.
We look forward to another exciting ABACE, as well as to ongoing prosperity in Asia Pacific, which goes a long way toward justifying ExecuJet’s commitment to the region.