Jet maker expects corporate prospects to soar on mainland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 February, 2011, 12:00am

Business jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace, which has a strong presence on the mainland, expects the market to grow sharply in the coming years. Gulfstream's vice-president of communications, Jeff Miller, shares his views on the mainland's business aviation market.

Can Gulfstream comment on the mainland's relaxation of its airspace, and will it likely result in an increase in orders for business jets, there and in Asia, as it will be easier for business people and others to fly into the mainland?

Airspace and air-traffic control regulations have become more liberal in the past few years, making it easier to travel by business jet and helping to expand the market. The latest change, opening airspace below 4,000 metres, is of more direct benefit to small general aviation aircraft and helicopters. Jets normally operate at higher altitudes and so are not direct beneficiaries of the change. Nevertheless, we see a trend towards making it easier to operate private aircraft and, over time, we think this will benefit the general aviation industry.

Can facilities in the mainland's airports cope with the anticipated increase in demand for business jets in the country and the Asian region?

New fixed-base operators, such as those at Hongqiao [in Shanghai] and Shenzhen, continue to open. Service providers are anticipating growing business aviation activity and are building to meet the demand. This is what we need to see for business aviation to provide its full potential to the Chinese economy.

How many orders have Gulfstream received from the Asia-Pacific?

At present, there are 139 Gulfstream aircraft in service across Asia-Pacific, which equates to a 22 per cent market share. This includes 112 aircraft in the large-cabin category, which represents a 47 per cent market share, the highest of any manufacturer. Additionally, we announced that Asia Jet, a Hong Kong-based charter company, had ordered three Gulfstream aircraft: a wide-cabin, high-speed G150; a large-cabin mid-range G200; and a large-cabin, mid-range G250. Around the same time, Win Air launched a private charter and aircraft management company in Taiwan. Win Air uses two US-registered Gulfstream aircraft: a GIV and a G450 and took delivery of a G550. Gulfstream is planning to deliver about 90 large-cabin aircraft worldwide in 2011, including 78 G550s and G450s.

Who is buying these jets, what type of jets are the most popular, and why are people buying these jets?

The purchasers cover the spectrum, from air charter companies to private owners. In general, 72 per cent of our sales are from public and private companies, 13 per cent are from private individuals, 9 per cent are government/special mission, and the remainder [about 6 per cent] are from charter and fractional operators. While orders span the entirety of our production line and new-aircraft portfolio, our large-cabin jets, the G450 and G550, remain the most popular, thanks to their tremendous capabilities.

What is the forecast for jet sales in 2011 and 2012?

We believe we are starting to see some recovery from the recession. Our international orders remain strong, especially in emerging markets.