Chinese Bizjet Market Poised for Liftoff?

Leasing deal for Gulfstreams could be the start of something big.

China Gulfstream Big

China Gulfstream Big

After years of watching and waiting, the world’s aircraft manufacturers could finally be witnessing the first signs that China’s growing economy is ready to fully embrace business aviation. ** **

The leasing division of China Minsheng Banking Corp. has ordered 50 Gulfstreams worth $2.6 billion at list prices in the largest business jet deal ever signed by a Chinese lessor. The contract includes G650, G550 and G450 models, the Tianjin, China-based Minsheng Financial Leasing Co. said in a statement on its website. Minsheng Leasing expects to have a fleet of 100 business jets by the end of the year as economic growth in China spurs demand for VIP travel.

Dassault, Bombardier and Embraer, meanwhile, have all said the Chinese bizjet market appears poised for immediate growth, with interest steadily picking up in recent months. Dassault set up a new sales and marketing office in Beijing in December, in addition to its existing offices in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to promote its jets in China.

Likewise, Bombadier has established a sales office in China as part of a strategy of attracting sales of business jets and commercial airliners. Embraer, meanwhile, is known to be in talks with Chinese interests about one day building business jets in China.

Chinese authorities are gradually loosening restrictions on airspace and easing bureaucratic formalities that still pose hurdles for private fliers. A decade ago, there were essentially no private jets in China and only a handful in Hong Kong. Today there are at least 90 bizjets registered in China, and 10 of those have been delivered since the start of this year.