Jiabei Yanzi, a coal mine boss from northern China, glimpsed a light Piaggio private jet and soon moved her eyes onto the nearby Boeing 737-700 business jet that was far bigger and cost more than US$30 million.
"I'd like to buy this one, as the first one is too small for me," said Jiabei, vice chairman of the Yulong Group in Shuozhou, a city in coal-rich Shanxi Province. She was among the first group of visitors to the inaugural Asia Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition that started yesterday at Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport.
Ten business jets were sold yesterday, mainly between jet manufacturers and corporate buyers on the first day of the exhibition. There were a few rich businesspeople, including bosses working in energy and real estate like Jiabei, who were also among the first batch of buyers.
"The traffic in Shanxi is too inconvenient, so I will buy a plane as a traffic tool," said Jiabei.
More than 150 exhibitors and about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors, including leading manufacturers, financiers, businesspeople and government officials, are expected at the three-day exhibition.
Jiabei brought along 20 bosses in the energy and real estate fields, who said they planned to buy at least 10 planes.
"Most of us plan to buy private planes, mainly for personal use," said one of the bosses who declined to be named.
Queues were common in the afternoon as the 30 planes, each costing more than 200 million yuan, were on display and potential buyers peered inside.
"More than 20 customers have come to ask for information about the planes, with half expressing their buying interest," said Tian Jun, chief representative of Avion Pacific Limited, a business jet sales company.
The manufacturer Gulfstream and private jet-leasing companies including Asian Sky Group and Vistajet also signed purchase contracts.