Archived Articles

2009 Mar  
BEIJING, PRC — March 1, 2009 — Last year was a great year for business aviation in Asia, especially the Greater China Region as more new operators started and more investment into business aviation infrastructure. The Civil Aviation Authority of China [CAAC] has been a strong supporter of general aviation development. There is currently a comprehensive study under way to lower aircraft import duties and user fees and also to open up more airspace.

Robert Kraft, a freelance pilot who operates in Asia, said he’s experienced a lot of variety in services offered to business aviation.

“There are few FBOs as we think of them in the West. Most airports in Asia still use hardstand parking and handling agents, though with a high degree of success. Generally, the level of service meets or exceeds my expectations on almost every level,” he said.

“On a recent trip through Asia I was professionally handled out of Gimpo International Airport, Seoul, South Korea, and Almaty on the western Asian frontier. What many airports lack in dedicated business aviation bricks-and-mortar they make up for in service,” Kraft said.

There are many aircraft management companies, charter and fractional operators that service Asia routinely from U.S. and European bases, but the important issue is the number based in Asia. Travel demand in China is high, with an increasing demand for aircraft charter in and around the Vietnamese and Cambodia regions. It is also notable there has been an increase in the number of aircraft in the region that are available with full charter capabilities.

Airport infrastructure is also improving, according to Ted Glogovac, Jeppesen’s product manager for international trip planning services.

“It’s one thing to operate your aircraft in the West,” Glogovac said. “You know what to expect and the rules are fairly uniform. Operating in Asia is a totally different experience.”

Glogovac characterized the services available in most parts of Asia as generally good. “The challenge is getting them in there and dealing with the necessary clearances, fees and so on, but once you’ve entered the airspace things go pretty well. The routing structure has definitely gotten better and what sometimes used to be the mystery of how to get from one place to another is now much better defined.”

Glogovac said many major Asian airports now offer VIP handling which costs on the average about $1,000 per stop and provides expedited customs, immigration and quarantine clearance, often right at the aircraft, expedited ground transportation drop-off and pick up, and greater security and anonymity for VIP passengers. Glogovac recommends that operators bring their own towbars.

Glogovac said that major airports now tend to have more than one handling service. “We welcome the competition because it makes all of us stay on our toes and do a better job.”

Russell Bunger, trip support specialist for Universal Weather & Aviation, agreed with Glogovac. “Getting into any major city in Asia is relatively easy today, but the one thing you have to remember is that, as in Europe, many of these cities have multiple airports. Some are open to corporate operators only at nighttime, some allow corporate flights any time but they don’t always have customs personnel on duty. You have look at your schedule and compare it with the requirements of a given airport. Giving yourself plenty of time and planning are the keys to success.”


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