Business / Industries

Aviation expo fails to get wings

By WANG WEN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-04 09:32

Spring, with flowers and drizzle, is always the best season in the regions south of the Yangtze River. But this April, together with China's business aviation industry, I suffered from chilly winds and cold rains in Shanghai.

The third Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition opened on April 14 and I visited the exhibition one day prior to this, on the media day. Two small conference rooms were fully booked and the time of each press conference was strictly limited, since these rooms had a price tag of $1,000 per hour.

One question was asked at every press conference: By what margin did your deliveries decline in 2014?

Senior managers from business jet manufacturers and operators tried their best to avoid talking about specific numbers, but they cannot deny that the market is slowing down.

The government's anti-corruption drive and slow GDP growth have had a definite impact on the business aviation market, which was overheated over the past six years.

Unlike the managers at the press conferences, the salesmen on the spot were more frank, as they felt that the market was just as chilly as the climate outside. Although the exhibition halls were as crowded as usual, with visitors keen to get a glimpse of some aircraft so luxurious that they are almost like flying penthouses, only a few passing through the halls actually stopped and made deals.

"Business jet owners would not like to visit the exhibition in this bad weather," a salesman told me.

There was even talk at the exhibition that it may be cancelled next year due to the depressed state of the market. I just hope that, if there is an exhibition next year, the climate could be a bit warmer.

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