The China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Nov. 15. (File photo/Xinhua)
China is expected to become the world's largest market for private aircraft as the country's wealthy buy up more jets for personal use.
Several thinktanks predict that China will surpass the United States in terms of private airplane ownership over the next decade.
Explosive growth would be needed for this to happen, however. Xu Yuhai, an industry insider, told the Chinese-language Economic Information Daily that there are currently only 150 private jets in China, compared with the 200,000 in the United States.
A market survey notes that there are 875,000 millionaires and 60,000 billionaires in mainland China and one-sixth of them have plans to buy private aircraft. Based on this assumption, the country has 155,800 potential customers for private jets. Even if only 5% of the country's 60,000 billionaires planned to buy their own plane or helicopter, the market's value could be pegged at 150 billion yuan (US$24 billion), leaving aside the economic value of maintenance and operation services and fuel consumption costs.
Beijing is set to relax a ban on the use of low-altitude airspace across the country fromthis year, according to the country's air traffic authorities. In 2010, the government issued guidelines relating to continuing reforms in low-altitude airspace management in which it identified the overall aim of airspace reform and divided low-altitude airspace into three phases for the next decade, a move expected to boost demand for private airplanes.
Zhai Jiahua, chairman of China Stem Cell Health Group, was the first businessman in the country to buy a private jet. He now owns two Bombardier aircraft. Zhai told the newspaper that his aircraft clocked about 400 to 500 flight hours a year and cost at least 30 million yuan (US$4.8 million) a year to rn.
The report also noted that the procedures for acquiring private airplanes are complicated at present.
Jason Liao, chairman and CEO of China Business Aviation Group, said there are three channels available for buying private airplanes, namely: directly placing orders with manufacturers, buying new planes from large institutes and manufacturers or purchasing a pre-owned aircraft.