Global charter operator VistaJet saw its membership increase 31 percent last year, has been making inroads in Asia-Pacific from its regional base in Hong Kong, and expects to take delivery of a number of Global 7500s once a decision is made about which companies in its holding group the aircraft should be allocated to, a company official told AIN in the run-up to ABACE.
“VistaJet entered the Asia-Pacific market in 2008,” said Leona Qi, president of US-Asia, VistaJet. She noted that in the Asia-Pacific region flights increased by 26 percent last year.
“Our Asia headquarters are in Hong Kong, where we have over 20 people in the frontline office, doing sales and marketing, customer services, operations, and private dining,” she said. “Crew are stationed everywhere. In addition to the Hong Kong office, we have offices in London, New York, Dubai, and our operational HQ in Malta, where our MRO operations take place.
She said the most popular regional destinations are Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. “Around one-quarter of our customers are based in Asia-Pacific,” she said.
“If you look at our fleet, it’s about even: we have 73 aircraft around the world including 36 Globals, and the rest are Challengers. The Globals fly over oceans, and the Challengers fly within the region.
“Half of our members are actually aircraft owners. They use us as a supplemental lift. Especially in Asia-Pacific, we see a movement away from aircraft ownership. China has already gone on its first-round aircraft buying spree, using the traditional thinking. An owner will probably own his first aircraft, and be beginning to understand the asset risk, capital risk, and operational difficulties in the region. Really, we are seeing a new millennial trend globally, as well as in Asia-Pacific, based on the benefits of the shared economy. When you fly less than 300 hours a year, owning an aircraft makes zero sense.”
Qi expressed satisfaction that the issue of FBO expansion in the Asia-Pacific region was being addressed. “We use FBO facilities wherever they are available,” she said. “Locations such as Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, where FBO facilities are available to cater for business jet users, have helped develop the business aviation industry in these cities tremendously.
“It’s encouraging to see more FBOs are being built, and [that] conversations about building infrastructure to accommodate the industry growth are being held. However, it will take time for new infrastructure to be in place for use. Currently, there are still many…frequently visited cities in Asia that don’t have FBO facilities, and customers who fly private have to share the same resources as commercial airline terminals at these locations. Hopefully, things will improve in the near future when new infrastructure is in place.”
Malta is base for the company’s MRO, but Bombardier facilities are available. “While in Asia, we also work closely with Bombardier and use their MRO facilities around Asia when needed,” she said.
Qi was circumspect on the timing and size of a potential order for the Global 7500 associated with VistaJet. “Vista Global Holding has options for a number of the Global 7500,” she said. “[VistaJet CEO] Thomas Flohr and Vista Global will decide on the order-split among the portfolio of companies.”
As usual, VistaJet will have a presence at ABACE. “We have a Global 6000 on static display,” she said.
“It is a very important event for the industry [in] the Asia-Pacific region. I think private aviation and general aviation are still very new here. It’s a long education process. We are excited to attend in order to push education and change perceptions. We have met new customers at ABACE in the past. We do have prospects there, and you never know who is going to pass by.”