flightglobal.com Interviews Charlie Mularski, Chairman, Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA)
Flight Global: FG Charlie Mularski: CM
FG: How will this year’s ABACE be different from 2015?
CM: Each year, ABACE has continued to grow and evolve into an event that is not only focused on China, but also throughout the broader Asian region. The 2016 ABACE will be the largest to date, and we have responded to market demands by expanding the available exhibit space at host facility Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre, to accommodate more exhibit booths and expanded pavilions.
Media interest in the event has continued to grow as well, and ABACE 2016 will present an outstanding venue for exhibitors to host press conferences and introduce new products and services. In fact, additional press conference slots have already been added to the schedule, as well as a dedicated ABACE press session.
This year, ABACE will also highlight the ability of the business viation community to respond in times of natural disaster and other crises. ABACE is actively working with operators of humanitarian aircraft to highlight this capability, and how business aviation benefits society broadly,particularly in times of disaster. We also expect to have edical evacuation aircraft on static display.
FG: Last year the private jet market in China was subdued owing to China’s slowing economy and political changes. how do you assess China’s private jet market at present?
CM: As we have seen in other markets around the globe, we expect the market across the region to continue to evolve and mature. ABACE helps nurture this growth by bringing together not just people and products, but also influential policymakers who, in turn, have the opportunity through ABACE to be educated about the local, regional, national, and international benefits of business aviation.
Organisations like the Asian Business Aviation Association, which is run by volunteers with a passion for business aviation, are actively advocating for a better and friendlier regulatory environment that can help business aviation grow and bring efficiencies and value to the local Asian economies that we have seen materialise in other markets, such as USA and Europe. As we all know,Asia is creating more high net worth individuals than any other region in the world, which translates into wealth creation and the need to utilise tools like business viation to further grow businesses beyond the local markets, create jobs, and to move world commerce.
We stay confident that business aviation in Asia and China will continue to grow, perhaps at a slower pace, but still growing.
FG: The site at Hongqiao Airport is great, but how much expansion space does it give you? Will you look at different venues at some point?
CM: ABACE show management remains committed to Shanghai for ABACE at least through 2021. We will continue to consider innovative options, in partnership with the Shanghai Airport Authority that will allow the show to be held on the airport property.
The ability to host a show like ABACE at an airport, offering an extensive static display of aircraft mere steps from the main show venue and exhibit hall, offers an optimal attendee and exhibitor experience. We certainly do not anticipate a change of venue in the near-term.
FG: How many aircraft do you expect to attend this year’s show?
CM: We expect approximately 40 aircraft at ABACE 2016. One of the hallmarks of ABACE is the ability to demonstrate the exciting and diverse range of aircraft used for business purposes at the Hongqiao Airport, including single and twin engine piston aircraft, single and twinengine turboprop aircraft, piston and turbine rotorcraft, as well as turbine aircraft ranging from light jets to largecabin intercontinental aircraft.
FG: Traditionally, Chinese users have preferred large cabin private jets, even though these are over qualified for regional flying. Do you see the Chinese market becoming more mature with people selecting the right jet for the mission?
CM: Our industry currently offers an unprecedented range of business aircraft models which are suited for a wide variety of specific roles and missions, and also cultural considerations.
For example, we know that companies in Asia often want to have large teams for making consensus-based decisions at key meetings, which is one driver of the selection of larger aircraft that can accommodate a number of businesspeople. That said,as understanding of the benefits of business aviation continues to grow throughout China and the Asia-Pacific [region], we expect greater diversity and acceptance of mission-tailored aircraft as well, in keeping with trends seen across North America,Europe,and other regions of the globe. We have seen an increased interest in pre-owned aircraft as well as segments below the super-long range from current and new aircraft owners,which is definitely a change in behaviour from the past and a sign that corporations and aircraft operators are matching the investment and aircraft type to the needs they have for their missions. This helps bring diversity to the market and [normalises] operating costs to the size of the missions the passengers need to accomplish.
FG: What else can we expect from the show?
CM: As well as the chance to network with peers in the global aviation community,ABACE also offers a high level of educational content. That begins with the show’s opening general session, featuring public officials who will discuss the importance of business aviation and the policy positions that help facilitate access to airports and airspace.
Additionally, throughout the show, a diverse range of educational sessions will focus on safety and operational best practices,market updates, international operations, and helicopter operations.
Many industries, especially aviation,are facing a talent shortage. AsBAA facilitates student-focused programming at ABACE to excite aviation and engineering students about the business aviation sector. This programme,which is held on the final day of the show, allows students to interact with exhibitors and attendees alike, and encourages them to pursue business aviation careers.