CBA's Jason Liao Says 'Time Is Right' For Western
As has been the case for much of the duration of the industry's
continuing recession, the largest word in a cloud diagram of the
conversations taking place here at NBAA would probably be "China."
At a news conference Sunday, China Business Aviation Group Chairman
and CEO Jason Liao (pictured) tried to convey a sense of the
accelerating growth of aviation in China, claiming it is on track
to displace the US as the world's largest business aviation market
by about 2018.
Liao cited a Boeing projection for the need for 3,600 new
commercial pilots every year through 2020 just for airlines,
imports of business aircraft which are doubling yearly, and noted,
"We are very excited about the tremendous opportunities in the
Among the more remarkable stats on China, Liao noted that
commercial aviation in China has been growing at 18 percent per
year for the last 30 years; its automotive market has gone from
almost non-existent in 2001 to the world's largest today; and the
overall economy is expected to displace the US as number-one in the
world in a few years. In a reference to Las Vegas, where NBAA is
hosted this year, he noted that Macau has now surpassed Vegas in
gaming revenue, and that Chinese spending is now the largest
segment in Las Vegas itself.
After presenting the statistical case for his bullishness, Liao
shared some anecdotal comments based on his 15 years of experience
in the Chinese market, including ten as chairman and vice chairman
of the Asian Business Aviation Association. He noted that the
Chinese government is moving more rapidly than many media reports
would suggest into opening not only low-altitude airspace to
private aircraft, but also the upper flight levels they need to
achieve their expected range.
Liao also noted that in addition to the rapid pace of government
development of airports, expected to be more than a dozen per year
into the foreseeable future, there are at least two private airport
projects being pursued. He said the obstacle to private ownership
of airports is the remaining limits on access to the low-altitude
airspace that surrounds them.
There was no obvious pitch in the company's presentation, but
Liao says there are myriad opportunities for high-caliber western
companies, including sourcing foreign pilots, mechanics and
business aviation personnel. He adds that almost all business
aircraft in China are managed by charter companies, presenting
another opportunity, and that the time is right for companies which
could develop plans for FBOs and executive terminals.
Among the questions raised following Liao's formal presentation
was one regarding the difficulty for foreign pilots to obtain
clearance to work in China. He said the pilot shortage there has
already grown so acute that the government is now issuing two-year
work visas to foreign pilots willing to work for Chinese airlines.
Another question involved claims by vendors here at NBAA that the
growth in China is so rapid deliveries are actually being delayed
for lack of places to park aircraft when they get there. Liao
admitted a lack of hangar capacity is a short-term problem, but
added, "That's a nice problem to have."