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Asia-Pacific Round-Up The recent quarter saw more than a hint of Australian activity. ews from the Asia-Pacific region this quarter has the strongest Australian flavor since this column began more than a year ago. Australasia’s leading aircraft sales and product support company- Hawker Pacific- surprised many by winning the franchise to operate Shanghai’s first FBO- in what was said to be a tough battle with Jet Aviation and Signature Flight Support.    Hawker Pacific secured its strategic ...

Mike Vines   |   1st July 2007
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Asia-Pacific Round-Up The recent quarter saw more than a hint of Australian activity. ews from the Asia-Pacific region this quarter has the strongest Australian flavor since this column began more than a year ago. Australasia’s leading aircraft sales and product support company- Hawker Pacific- surprised many by winning the franchise to operate Shanghai’s first FBO- in what was said to be a tough battle with Jet Aviation and Signature Flight Support.

   Hawker Pacific secured its strategic foothold in China by entering into a joint venture with the Shanghai Airport Authority- the operator of the city’s two airports- which are amongst the busiest in China. The two companies will develop a full FBO at Hongquiao Airport- Shanghai- with a planned opening date slated for April 2008- and therefore before the Beijing Olympics.

   The development will consist of an FBO- MRO- and later corporate aircraft management services will be offered. The facility will be capable of handling up to 6-000 aircraft movements a year. Alan Smith- Hawker Pacific’s CEO- said the joint venture represented the substantial fulfillment of a strategy set by the company more than four years ago. “We have long recognized the potential offered by China as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies- and we have been focused on developing appropriate strategic relationships to achieve our goals.

   “Hawker Pacific was selected by the Shanghai Airport Authority as its joint venture partner after careful evaluation of a number of candidates over an extensive period. It reflects Hawker Pacific’s regional strength- capabilities- and strong focus on the Chinese market- developed over many years of activity in that market-” continued Smith.

   He noted the development of FBO- MRO- and Aircraft Services facilities in Shanghai would position the joint venture not only to provide services to existing domestic and international corporate aircraft- but also support the anticipated growth in future corporate/private aircraft ownership in China.

   “We’ve had an office in Beijing since 1984- pioneering times in those days- so we’ve got a long exposure of experience in that market-place and it probably helped us to win the 20-year Shanghai deal-” said Smith. He added that probably because of his company’s existing relationships with Hawker Beechcraft and Dassault Falcon Jet- he’s received strong expressions of interest from a number of other manufacturers as they realize that guaranteed product support is an essential ingredient in China.

   “The OEMs have been pretty understanding and realize that to get a critical mass they’ll probably have to share with other OEMs at the same facility-” remarked Smith. “Up until now- no-one has focused on business aircraft MRO support work in China – other companies have concentrated on airliner business with aircraft upward of Boeing 737s and Airbus A320 size.”

   Smith explained the joint venture represented a neat fit with Hawker Pacific’s broader strategic growth plan for FBO/Aircraft Management Services in Asia- South-East Asia- and the Pacific. The move is also important to a number of aircraft manufacturers who are keen to ensure product support capabilities as the market grows in China.

   “Any examination of economic development and investment inflows tells you that China and India- together with South-East Asia- are regarded as being the power-houses for the world economy over the next few decades-” he said. “That is something that Hawker Pacific has clearly in mind in terms of future growth- through the expansion of our business services where it makes economic sense to do so.”

   Hawker Pacific Pty Ltd is the market-leader in integrated civil and military aerospace sales and product support in Australia- Asia and the Pacific. The company maintains facilities in Sydney- Melbourne- Brisbane- Perth- Townsville- Cairns and Auckland- New Zealand- as well as across South-East Asia and Dubai in the Middle East. The company has spent the last four years looking at the potential of opening another FBO/Maintenance operation in New Delhi- India. “MRO business on Indian corporate jets has grown tremendously at our Singapore Seletar base over the last few years-” observed Smith. “The growth is substantial and exponential.”

   Hawker Pacific is also eying an increased presence at Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia- as both Hawker Beechcraft and Dassault Falcon Jet are winning aircraft orders there- Smith confided.

Singapore Aerospace Park
Hawker Pacific- which has been based at Seletar- Singapore- since 1978- is also one of the major companies planning a significant investment in the new ‘Aerospace Park’ at the airfield. The company holds several prominent manufacturer service center accreditations- and 13 separate regulatory approvals from around the world. Specialist services for private jet owners include Asia’s only one stop exterior and interior refurbishment facility.

   Smith revealed- “We regard our extensive Seletar facility as our Asian regional headquarters where we work on aircraft from Thailand- Indonesia- Malaysia- China and India. We are about to invest heavily in Seletar and are in discussions with the Singaporean authorities.” The new facility should incorporate an FBO which will supersede its current facility and is working towards offering a full service FBO.

   The ‘Seletar Aerospace Park’ as it is known- is planned to be an aviation center of excellence and the key to grow Singapore into a global aviation hub- encouraging activities in MRO- manufacturing- R&D and flight training. It will also fit well with Seletar’s history and character as it was Singapore’s first international civil airport. Through the years- as international air traffic moved to Kallang- Paya Lebar- and finally Changi- Seletar has continued to operate as a base for business and general aviation operators and MRO providers- as well as flight training.

   The Aerospace Park will support a new integrated aerospace industry cluster incorporating aerospace MRO; design and manufacturing of aircraft systems and components; business and general aviation activities; and an aviation campus for the training of pilots- aviation professionals- and technical personnel. The Singapore Government will develop about 350 acres of adjoining land at the airport. The Aerospace Park master-plan was due to be published as World Aircraft Sales Magazine went to press- but improvements to minor roads has already started.

   Up-grading of the airport’s apron and taxiways- and lengthening the runway to accept heavier airliner/VVIP sized aircraft- is an early and major priority. The phased development is expected to take about eight years- and cost in the region of $40 million for the first phases. The Singapore Ministry of Trade & Industry says that the Park is expected to contribute S$3.3 billion annually in value-added (1% of GDP) and create 10-000 new jobs- mainly skilled ones- by 2018.

   Mr. Lim Hng Kiang- Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry- said in April at the opening of ST Aerospace Engineering’s Hangar 600 and the ground-breaking of its (third) Hangar 700- “With the growth of private wealth management in Singapore- and tourism developments such as the integrated resorts- there will be increased business aviation traffic in Singapore. We are also ideally situated to have aircraft based here to serve regional business and luxury travel needs.”

   He added that Seletar will host MRO activities for smaller aircraft ranging from helicopters to narrow-body jets and cabin interior completion and aircraft modification work. “These are a natural extension of our existing strengths in MRO for larger commercial aircraft.”

   Some of the current Seletar tenants will have to move out of their facilities into temporary accommodation while their buildings are flattened and rebuilt to modern standards.

   One lucky company not affected by this is Jet Aviation which is one of the three authorized servicing agencies already at Seletar. Jet Aviation’s facilities have recently been totally upgraded- and it has a very neat FBO passenger and crew terminal and maintenance set up to handle Bombardier- Gulfstream- Cessna- and soon Boeing Business Jets.

   Michael Sattler- Jet Aviation (Asia-Pacific) Pte Ltd’s vice president and general manager- said- “It is true that some companies are having to move to temporary buildings but fortunately not us.

   “We offer MRO and FBO services here and our colleagues at Jet Aviation Hong Kong handle charter operations.”

Embraer signs Singapore MRO
In other news- Embraer has selected Hawker Pacific to operate its authorized Executive Jets Service Center at Seletar- providing full support for its Legacy 600 and Phenom executive jets.

   “To cater for the Embraer Executive Jet Service Center accreditation- Hawker Pacific has committed to significant long-term capital investment that provides for trained specialists- facilities- tooling and equipment- information and state of the art safety management systems-” said John Riggir- Hawker Pacific’s senior vice president- Asia.

Hawker and JetGroup fractional alliance
Hawker Pacific has also formed a strategic alliance with JetGroup based on aircraft management- FBO and MRO business. Jet Group has introduced a new fractional usage product known as ‘Private Class’ designed for public corporations and users who don’t want to have an aircraft on their balance sheet- but still require dedicated business jet uplift.

   The aircraft are owned by JetGroup and managed and operated under Hawker Pacific’s AOC which will also supply FBO- handling- and crewing- etc.

Perth FBO
Another Australian business aviation company making the headlines is Executive Airlines Pty Ltd which is to open a new FBO at Perth Airport- Western Australia.

   The company is investing $3 million in the new facility which will have its own dedicated passenger terminal and hangar due to open in September. The company is to base a Citation Sovereign and a longer range aircraft there from July.

   The company was formed in the mid- 1980's making it one of the oldest specialist business aircraft operators on the sub continent. In 1998 and 1999 the company purchased two other existing companies- Southern Commander Pty Ltd which managed and operated a Hawker 800 for Shell Australia- and Associated Airlines Pty Ltd- a company jointly owned by BHP Limited (now BHP Billiton ) and Rio Tinto Limited- that operated a Gulfstream G-IV and Challenger 601 for its parent companies.

   In late 1999 Executive Airlines combined the resources of each company into one to serve the aviation industry in business aircraft operations- sales- management and maintenance.

GoJet plans
GoJet of Australia offers charter via a Citation Jet and Beech 200 King Air- and plans to offer a fractional program using either Citation Mustangs or Eclipse 500s in the near future.

Deer Jet buys Gulfstreams- Hawkers and Boeings
Meantime- Deer Jet of China- a part of the Hainan Aviation Group (which owns Hainan Airlines)- is the number one provider of jet charter services in China- and is in negotiation with Gulfstream for three G350s for 2010 delivery. Final contract signing is imminent according to the company.

   This year Deer Jet will add another Gulfstream IV- and a Hawker 850 will be added to its fleet in early 2008. In 2009 it plans to add a Hawker 900 and in 2011 the company has a firm order booked for a Boeing BBJ which will make it the first Chinese operator of the aircraft type. Deer Jet is also planning to expand from its owned/operated air charter core business into fleet management- aircraft maintenance- interior finishing and FBO services. Three locations are being assessed- at Beijing- Shanghai and Shenshen says the company.

   The mention of the Shanghai location is particularly interesting as Hawker Pacific has just lifted the prize at this economic capital’s secondary airport which will be dedicated to business- helicopter and flight training.

   Deer Jet’s current fleet of four Hawker 800XPs- a Gulfstream IV and managed Gulfstream G150 are very busy. The 800XPs are averaging 800 flight hours each annually- and the Gulfstream 700 hours. With Deer Jet exhibiting at EBACE for the first time this year it shows the importance the Chinese company is placing on business originating from the west.

More Chinese airspace available
According to reports- China’s People’s Liberation Army is to open more airspace around its southern island of Hainan- which will allow more direct routes to be flown to and from south-east Asia.

Japan orders Russian helicopter
Finally- according to a Russian source- a Japanese company (Morikava Shoji Kaisha Ltd)- has ordered the country’s first Russian helicopter since the break-up of the Soviet Union - in the shape of a Kamov Ka-32A11BC. The helicopter holds Transport Canada certification- and was due to be delivered by mid-June.

   It will be used for passenger and cargo work and operated by the Akagi Helicopter Co. Ltd.

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