Asian Market for Private Jet Travel is Growing

Just as the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) – which this year runs from April 16 -April 19 – was getting off the ground, Leona Qi, president of US-Asia, VistaJet, had an opportunity to discuss the Asian-Pacific market with AIN Online. She told AIN that VistaJet saw its membership increase 31 percent last year and has been making inroads in the Asia-Pacific market from its regional base in Hong Kong. She also noted that flights increased by 26 percent last year in the Asia-Pacific region last year.

Qi then went on to say that the most popular regional destinations are Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. “Around one-quarter of our customers are based in Asia-Pacific,” she said.

“If you look at our fleet, it’s about even: we have 73 aircraft around the world, including 36 Globals, and the rest are Challengers. The Globals fly over oceans, and the Challengers fly within the region.”

Qi continued, “Half of our members are actually aircraft owners. They use us as a supplemental lift. Especially in Asia-Pacific, we see a movement away from aircraft ownership. China has already gone on its first-round aircraft buying spree, using traditional thinking. An owner will probably own his first aircraft, and be beginning to understand the asset risk, capital risk, and operational difficulties in the region. Really, we are seeing a new millennial trend globally, as well as in Asia-Pacific, based on the benefits of the shared economy. When you fly less than 300 hours a year, owning an aircraft makes zero sense.”

FBO Expansion and Improved Infrastructure

An issue sure to be discussed at length at ABACE is the improvements in infrastructure in the region. Qi expressed satisfaction that the issue of FBO expansion in the Asia-Pacific region was being addressed. “We use FBO facilities wherever they are available,” she said. “Locations such as Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, where FBO facilities are available to cater to business jet users, have helped develop the business aviation industry in these cities tremendously.

“It’s encouraging to see more FBOs are being built, and [that] conversations about building infrastructure to accommodate the industry growth are being held. However, it will take time for new infrastructure to be in place for use. Currently, there are still many…frequently visited cities in Asia that don’t have FBO facilities, and customers who fly private have to share the same resources as commercial airline terminals at these locations. Hopefully, things will improve in the near future when new infrastructure is in place.”

Keeping Pace With the Expanding Markets in Private Aviation

At XO, we are doing our part to serve the growing market for business aviation.

“This acquisition is an important milestone for Vista Global, accelerating and executing our vision of digitizing the entire private aviation offering. Customers today want speed, reliability, and value, which in today’s world is only possible with technology,” said Vista Global’s CEO Thomas Flohr when he announced the acquisition.

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