China wealth

Big still best for China’s high-flying private jet buyers, says Hurun Report

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 4:34pm

China’s super-rich still favour large models of private jets, although industry executives see a shift in buyers’ attitudes towards owning planes for their practical usefulness rather than status.

The latest Business Jets and Hurun China Rich List 2015, published by Hurun Report, said that 28 of the top 100 wealthiest people owned 41 private jets. Li Hejun, founder of thin-film solar group Hanergy, has two, as does home appliance maker Midea’s co-founder, He Xiangjian.

Eight, or nearly a third, of the owners are based in Beijing, owning a total of nine jets. Guangdong is the next private jet hotspot, with seven people owning eight planes, the report said.

Prices for the 41 business jets varied from 30 million yuan (US$4.8 million) to 500 million yuan. Of them, only three are medium-sized and there are no small ones. The G550, made by leading aerospace company Gulfstream, is the most popular model, with 19, followed by six from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier and three made by France’s Dassault.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of Hurun Report, said he believed that actual private jet ownership among the 100 richest people should be higher, given the latest research by the Asian Sky Group that found there are altogether 297 business jets on the mainland.

“Compared with the Europe and America, large-sized jets occupy the majority of the market in China … If we liken it to cars, they’re buying Porsches first and later considering Audis,” Hoogewerf said.

But the Asian Sky report showed growth in the private business jet market slowed sharply last year amid the central government's sweeping crackdown on corruption. Jets are now being seen more as a useful tool, industry officials said.

Briand Greer, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific, said that because business jets have always been considered a luxury item, many mainlanders had bought them as a status symbol.

“There used to be only large cabin models sold in China because people wanted the big size to show off their wealth,” he said.

“But now we’re seeing some good sales of medium sized or smaller cabins, and that’s a recognition that people start to say that I don’t want to show off my wealth. I really need this jet as a utility tool for me to use,” he added.

The 28 private jet owners are aged 55 on average, one year older than the average of all the 100 richest people on the Hurun Rich List, the research found.

Two of them are women, Zhang Yin of Guangdong-based paper manufacturer Nine Dragons, and Chen Lihua of Hong Kong-listed real estate conglomerate Fu Wah Group.