The sixth annual Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE 2017), which was held from 11 – 13 April at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport, featured more than 180 exhibitors, 40% of which were Asian companies. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen highlighted the rapid growth of the show since it moved to Shanghai in 2012, saying: “This is truly an Asian exhibition and it brings the international aviation community to China.”
Although ABACE is a pan-Asian event, the focus remains on China – the host and largest market for business aviation in the region. As we reported last month, the Chinese government is making significant efforts to encourage business and general aviation both by easing restrictions and by improving airport and airfield infrastructure. Charlie Mularski, chair of the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), has cautioned that this will not necessarily benefit business aviation because the hundreds of planned new runways will be too short to accommodate corporate jets.
The Chinese authorities have also however announced plans to build 154 new secondary commercial airports over the next ten years, with an additional 40 due for completion by 2020. Major airports, particularly Beijing Capital and Shanghai’s airports are experiencing capacity issues and slot restrictions due to increasing demand from the country’s burgeoning commercial airlines.
Business and general aviation are seen as locomotives for economic growth – a theme emphasised by Jiang Huaiyu director general of the Eastern Regional Headquarters for the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) in his comments to the ABACE opening session. The Chinese market is indeed changing. This year’s 33-strong aircraft static display is evidence of that – featuring marques of different sizes and designed for very different roles, rather than the large cabin aircraft that seemed to dominate five years ago.