Operating from its regional base in Singapore, Cessna Textron is one of the world's 20 major business aircraft manufacturers hoping the region will become a major market. Robert Hollander, Far East/ Pacific sales manager for Cessna's range of Citation business jets, said Southeast Asia was a key market. Mr Hollander joined Cessna from one of its big rivals, Gulfstream Aerospace, where he was manager for international sales. Cessna, like companies in other industries, has been hit by the regional downturn which has affected future prospects in the short to medium term. However, it believes the long-term prospects are good because it offers a wide range of products from single piston-engined aircraft such as the 172 Skyhawk to the six-model range of Citation jets. Singapore Airlines recently ordered five Skyhawks for delivery last month to help train its cadet pilots. China Southern Airlines, based in Guangzhou, also operates the 10-passenger Cessna 206 Caravan, a single-engined turboprop aircraft, which allowed it to consider expanding operations into numerous smaller or remote airport locations. Cessna is looking to its top-of-the- range Citation series of corporate jets to notch the biggest success. 'Southeast Asia is an important factor in our sales and marketing plans for Citations,' Mark Paolucci, Cessna vice-president for international sales, said. These jets include the 10-passenger Citation X, the world's fastest corporate aircraft with a cruising speed of Mach .92. It can travel between Hong Kong and Singapore in little more than 2.5 hours. This is one hour quicker than by scheduled airline. The 'turn-up and go' benefit of executive jet travel means that one could be arriving in Singapore when those flying by a regular air carrier are still waiting to depart Chek Lap Kok. But this level of service does not come cheap. The Citation X costs US$16.1 million, although the smaller and slightly slower CitationJet is considerably cheaper at US$3.26 million. The nine to 13-seat Caravan operated by China Southern Airlines sells for US$1.18 million. Last year, Cessna delivered 180 Citations, mostly to North American customers. However, it also sold one to the Thai military.