By Charles Alcock
It’s wheels-up in emerging markets. With economies booming in China, India and Latin America, those countries are fast embracing the ultimate symbol of American moguldom, the private jet. And that is shaking up the industry: North America last year accounted for just 42% of deliveries of new private jets, down from 54% two years earlier, sending U.S. jet makers racing to learn Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish.
Stanley Ho, the Macau casino tycoon, set the pace last year when he dispatched his jet on a 3,200-mile round trip to Singapore to fetch some of his favorite type of fruit, the durian. The fruit, about the size of a football, is so pungent that it’s banned from commercial airlines. Ho’s crew dutifully loaded 88 pieces — eight is a lucky number — and flew them home to the boss.
As in the U.S., Gulfstream is the brand of choice in China, holding 37% of the market, according to consulting firm Firestone Management. Next comes Cessna, with 21% and Bombardier with 18%. Hawker Beechcraft and Dassault also have been making inroads, and Airbus and Boeing are both represented.
The new buyers in China and other Asian markets look willing to buy relatively small planes, which should accelerate the buying. In Thailand, Luzi Matzig, CEO of tour operator Asian Trails, and Soonthorn Metal Industries Vice Chairman Supap Puranitee each have bought a Cessna Citation Mustang light jet.