Air China

Red tape cut as private jets set for mainland take-off

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am


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China will speed up the approval process for operators of business jets to acquire new aircraft and plan flight routes, as the nation's private-aircraft business starts to take off.

The number of private jets on the mainland reached 109 last year, up 45.3 per cent year on year. In comparison, the growth of general aviation during the same period was only 14.2 per cent, Xia Xinghua, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said in Shanghai yesterday.

Xia said 48 private-jet-charter start-ups were now awaiting the CAAC's approval to enter the market. Last year there were only nine such operators on the mainland.

He said the government was ready to shorten the approval process, to make it easier for charter-jet companies to acquire new aircraft. At present it takes three months on average for an operator to get approval.

'The number of [available slots] at airports for business jets is not enough,' Xia said, 'Also, the management of airspace, air routes and flight plans can be improved.'

There are only 180 airports in China that allow private jets to land and take off, compared with 15,000 in the United States.

Xia said the government would invest in infrastructure and hoped to cut the approval time for flight plans to three days or less in future. But in the short term, they would approve only about 30 new operators by 2015, to ensure safety standards.

The deputy director also said the import tax for private jets was too high. But he declined to say if this would be changed. All mainland-registered private jets are subject to 17 per cent value-added tax and a tariff of at least 4 per cent.

While China's private jet market is still small compared with developed countries, it is expected to see robust growth thanks to the rise in the number of its billionaires and multinationals, at a time when European and North American markets are slowing down. Many foreign private-jet-charter companies are now rushing into the China market.

Gulfstream, the US business-jet manufacturer, said it was optimistic about sales in China. It secured two more aircraft orders yesterday from the Beijing-based jet-charter company AllPoints Jet.

The Swiss business-jet-charter operator VistaJet also plans to team up with Air China to tap the Chinese market. VistaJet said it would double its fleet size by 2015 - partly to meet growing Chinese demand for private jet services.

Another high-profile joint venture is between NetJets - a business-jet operator owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway - and Chinese investors including Hony Capital and Fung Investments, according to a statement yesterday.


Gulfstream's share of the large-cabin business jet market in Asia-Pacific