With their more traditional territory hit by the global economic downturn, the world's aviation giants are rubbing their hands with glee over a take-off in demand for business jets in China.
At the 2012 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE), which kicked off on Tuesday in Shanghai, there is real excitement at the opportunities presented by Chinese economic growth and the country's increasing population of nouveaux riches.
Of the 155 business aircraft sold globally by Boeing since 1999, 10 have gone to clients in China, including three last year, Steve Taylor, president of Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), told Xinhua at the conference.
And BBJ is expecting to sell another three to five of the jets, whose unit price is over 57 million U.S. dollars, to Chinese clients in 2012, Taylor added.
The ABACE sees 30 luxurious business jets open to visitors at the landing field of Hongqiao Airport from March 27 to 29. And it has attracted over 150 international enterprises in business aviation, including Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Cessna and Dassault.
Dassault is eyeing robust sales growth this year in China, which has topped the global sales of its Falcon series of business aircraft, said an official with the French manufacturer.
The company predicts it will have sold 25 of its Falcon family business aircraft to China by the end of 2012, which would triple their current number in the country, according to Frank W. Youngkin, Dassault Falcon senior vice president of customer service.
Highlighting the Chinese market, the aviation giant has also launched a new service department in Shanghai, the leader of China's aviation industry, with the aim of building a professional team of technicians.
China is now "the most active aviation market with robust growth" in the eyes of global manufacturers, and business aviation is the real breakthrough, said Li He, sales director of King Air products with Avion Pacific Limited.
The trend is driven by the increasing number of super-rich as well as commercial and government use, said Li, adding that in 2011, Avion Pacific sold 13 business aircraft in China, with prices ranging from 3.9 million to 23 million U.S. dollars.
Set apart from scheduled flights, business aviation concerns the high-end service of civil flights, satisfying individual and business demands for flexible, convenient and fast travel.
In 2008, China registered only 32 business aircraft. In 2011, the number reached 109 and the country saw 13,400 registered departures and arrivals of business flights last year, according to Xia Xinghua, vice head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
It is anticipated that China's business aviation will increase by 10 to 15 percent in 2012.
"The potential in China and throughout Asia has broken through and is clearly visible to all," said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the U.S. National Business Aviation Association.
"Still in its infancy, China's business aviation will now have the fastest growth in the region for many years to come. It has possibilities to leap forward by adopting the most advanced technologies and services worldwide and finding its own development mode."