Always nice to see aviation conferences in China. Last week brought us the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in all its splendor.
I find it ironic how the news coverage and "industry insiders" fawn over themselves about how quickly the business aviation market is growing in China. Yet, with the same breath, make a statement like this:
"The number of registered business jets last year on the mainland was 132, less than 1 percent of that in the United States."
Sorry, but that is no market. There was an addition of 20 planes in the last year to the Chinese registry. Despite the predictions, there is no growth. Why?
It is no doubt a complicated answer, but one of the biggest hurdles to the development of private aviation in China is that fact this is Communist China. The airspace is run by the military, the airports have limited facilities for private jets, and most importantly there is no general aviation airspace (aside from a few test areas.)
In this environment, there is little incentive to fire up your private jet, especially when airspace closures and pre-authorization of flight plans limit your ability to travel.
As the Wall Street Journal put it last week:
But for all the dizzying projections, there are also more practical problems. China's military retains significant control over the country's airspace, and it's commercial, not private, aviation that is the development priority. Approval times for private flights are still often measured in days rather than hours—so much for the convenience of having your own jet—and in the few places where a program to open up low altitudes to general aviation has been implemented, pilots can do little more than circle the airports from which they take off.