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Private plane sellers hope for scoop from Beijing Olympics
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The Beijing Olympics this year will help boost the growth of the business aviation sector in China, businessmen from around the world said at an aviation exhibition in Hong Kong Thursday.

"The Olympics are going to create a kick in the industry here," said Jay Mesinger, chief executive officer of the United States-based aircraft brokerage firm Corporate Jet Sales, Inc.

Mesinger, who was attending the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition for a second year, said his company started exploring the Chinese market recently.

"I have been in the industry for 34 years and understand investing in the future. When it comes, we will be there," he said.

Jin Yongfa, general manager of Capital Jet, a Beijing-based company that will arrange most of the Olympics-related business and private flights, said his company was applying to aviation authorities for 57 parking lots at the events.

Olympics-related business flights would be allowed between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to a draft plan handed in by the company to aviation authorities.

Jin said he expected around 300 business and private flights to and from the Capital Airport in Beijing, the Olympic host city.

The Chinese mainland, with less than 20 business planes in operation if excluding planes for government use, only has 10 percent of the Asian market in business aviation and a even more modest share of the global market, said Jason Liao, regional sales director for Asia of the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation.

But the government and aviation authorities were "doing everything right" and providing encouraging support to the business aviation sector, Liao said.

Chuck Woods, chief executive officer of Macao-based business flight operator Jet Asia, said 8 to 10 new airports were being added each year on the Chinese mainland, putting remarkable drive force behind the sector locally.

Some of the U.S.-based companies were already exploring the Chinese mainland market, including jet manufacturer Cessna, said Edward Bolen, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. National Business Aviation Association.

Europe-based industry giant Airbus, who was also trying to get a piece of cake of the Chinese market, was expecting 15 orders from the mainland and the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, said David Velupillai, marketing director of the company's executive and private aviation department.

Bolen said there have been changes to air space restrictions on the Chinese mainland in the recent five years, which were "like decades in the West."

The Olympics might help expose business flights in China and stimulate the growth of the local business aviation sector even after the games, he added.

Jay Mesinger said he expects people in China to gradually accept private plane ownership as a tool to help their business instead of no more than a luxury.

Conditions for the development of the business aviation sector on the Chinese mainland may be mature enough in 10 years, he said.

"But it won't wait for 10 years. It will start growing right now," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)

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