The private jet market in China is poised to take off in a big way as more and more cash rich businessmen fly in swanky luxury jets for business deals and holidays, most of them opting for the biggest 12 seater ones.
"The top-tier Chinese billionaires are flying the best jets available. They want the best, they want it now," Mike Walsh, chief executive of Asia Jet, a private aviation company that operates one of the largest fleets of private jets in Asia, said.
He said a lot of cash-rich Chinese are flying on private jets to countries like Maldives, Australia and Europe -- both for work and holidays.
"We're flying Chinese to the Maldives. A lot of Chinese fly on private jets to Australia, especially the Gold Coast, to do property deals. Many fly to Europe on their private jets for summer holidays," he told South China Morning Post.
China's increasing business interests in Africa, America and Europe is also fuelling private jet market.
"At the same time, it's not unusual for them to fly in their jets to attend high-profile events in the Western world like the US Open tennis and the Cannes Film Festival," he said.
Walsh says the development of the China market has been atypical.
"The majority of purchases are in the heavy [private] jet sector. A heavy jet has more than 12 seats and can fly long distances - over six hours non-stop," he said.
In the US and Europe, the typical development path among private jet customers was to start with small jets and progress to bigger ones, but mainland buyers were leapfrogging to the biggest jets, Walsh said.
Two years ago, the private jet market in the mainland hardly existed."China's looking at 20 to 25 per cent year-on-year growth in private jet sales in the next 10 years. This year it will be 30 per cent," Walsh said.
At present, there are fewer than 1,000 private jets in Asia, compared with roughly 20,000 in the United States.The US accounts for 55 per cent of the global market. Europe, including Russia, accounts for 21 per cent and the Asia-Pacific 11 per cent.
"That figure is going to dramatically change. By the end of this decade, Asia will have more planes than the US. Asia can account for half the world's private jet market in 10 years," Walsh said.
The double-digit growth of China's small private-jet market contrasts with the soft global market, hurt by the financial crisis.