What should business jet operators know before planning a trip to Asia-Pacific? How can they ensure a successful visit to the region? AvBuyer spoke with UAS’s Carlos Schattenkirchner to get his tips…
Carlos Schattenkirchner started his career in Business Aviation in 2007 and has since gained a wealth of experience in global operations. In 2015, he became senior operations manager at UAS’ Middle East Operations Center in Dubai, before relocating in 2017 as UAS Operations Director, China.
Continuing to head up UAS’ Beijing operations today, Mr. Schattenkirchner is responsible for China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. As a key figure in UAS’ trip support services and executive travel services, AvBuyer caught up with him to better understand the need for thorough trip planning when traveling into the Asia-Pacific region.
AvBuyer: Looking back over the last few years, has Asia-Pacific become any easier for international and domestic Business Aviation operators to travel to?
Schattenkirchner: There has been tremendous development in Asia-Pacific in general. In the past 12 years, I have seen a huge growth in business jet activities across the board. Many challenges of the early days have improved, too. The language problems have certainly improved, there is now a larger presence of trip planning agents with a physical presence in the region which greatly assists operators in accessing the Asia-Pacific region.
Also, the regional appreciation for – and understanding of – quality expectations is much better these days. While many countries have only recently started to allow FBOs to be established, there has been a major move already to create a more business jet-friendly environment at many main airports in the region.
However, this is an ongoing process and we’re only at the beginning of the development with many gaps in different parts of the Asia-Pacific region still.
One of the remaining challenges is that many civil aviation authorities don’t yet see the full potential and value of Business Aviation. So, in many places we’re still missing a client-focused approach and operators face a lot of red tape.
In general, the pace of development in Asia-Pacific is so rapid that we can also see infrastructural issues across the area. Many airports and nations have not been able to cater for rising demand for business jet activities.
So, infrastructure remains a big challenge because not only has Business Aviation seen major growth but Commercial Aviation within the region has developed rapidly, which has seen many areas hit their limits.
AvBuyer: How widely varied are the rules and regulations governing operators who fly to, and across Asia-Pacific?
Schattenkirchner: This is still one of the main concerns. Rules and regulations remain un-adapted to Business Aviation needs. In many countries, there is no clear understanding of the differences. In China, for example, Private (ultimately Business) and Commercial Aviation are distinguished by aircraft size and seats.
A few years ago we may not have seen many large business jets, but today it is common to see an Airbus ACJ320, or even the odd Boeing 787 in VIP configuration, operating as a business jet. However, some authorities still categorize such aircraft as commercial airliners and treat them as such in terms of permits, parking and slot procedures.
Carlos Schattenkirchner, UAS Operations Director, China
AvBuyer: What is the current security situation for international operators flying into Asia-Pacific? Are there parts of the region where specific security measures need to be arranged as part of an overall trip planning package?
Schattenkirchner: The Asia-Pacific region is one of the world’s largest and is very diversified. There are areas that require a special focus on security arrangements for the aircraft, crew and passengers. Visa regulations and health aspects are also an integral part of trip planning.
In some regions, it’s not just looking for a Western service-standard hotel, but aircraft safety needs also need to be reviewed. Such detailed preparation and consulting services can only be provided by companies demonstrating thorough experience and a strong and established network within the region.
Many operators come to the region for more than a single stop. Often the trips cover multiple destinations. So, the key to a successful trip is not only to focus on one ‘critical’ destination but to address all issues at all stops in your trip planning.
While a single operator might be able to focus on one airport, it is almost impossible to have that level of knowledge and experience throughout the region. With the fast pace of development in Asia-Pacific, the challenges (and knowledge) an operator might have had a few months ago could very quickly become outdated.
AvBuyer: Finally, what are the three aspects of the trip planning process for flights into Asia-Pacific that Business Aviation operators should not look to negotiate/compromise on?
Schattenkirchner: The foremost priority for all operators is to select the right trip planning solution provider who can demonstrate they understand exactly what they need and has the necessary expertise and experience to foresee any issues they may face.
Once you’ve done that, the first step would be an exhaustive planning phase that considers multiple factors – especially as Asia-Pacific is not very flexible in terms of acquiring slots, parking or visa regulations. Start with a full overview of what is possible and what is not, so you know from the outset where flexibility isn’t possible.
Because there are so many congested airports, improper planning will lead to incredible frustration once you cannot land at a desired time and date, or upon learning it will not be possible to depart when you need to.
Next, clear communication is vital. While most operators understand about scheduling difficulties, they have little or no understanding of getting wrong or misleading information. If a certain schedule is simply not possible, most clients appreciate being informed at the start, rather than at the very last moment.
This comes back to working with an experienced and trustworthy trip support partner who is not only fully aware of any potential restrictions, but also shows the importance of honest and open dialogue and true problem-solving.
Finally, we come to the area of pricing. While everybody is aware that prices in Asia-Pacific are sometimes higher than in other parts of the world, clients can still get the feeling they are being taken advantage of by local suppliers. It is therefore vital for operators to find partners who they can rely on with transparent pricing and local knowledge of fees and costs.
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