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ASG Asia Pacific report reveals slight fleet reduction
The Asia Pacific business jet charter fleet stands at 327 jets, a reduction of six from the 333 in 2018. Numbers have reduced in China, which remains the major marketplace, and increased in Singapore.

As of June 2020 the Asia Pacific business jet charter fleet stood at 327 aircraft, a reduction of six jets (1.8 per cent decrease) from the 333 in 2018, according to figures from Hong Kong business aviation consulting firm Asian Sky Group. The average age of the fleet is 15.9 years.

Despite seeing a decrease to its charter fleet (losing 17 charter aircraft, an 18 per cent decrease), mainland China remained the largest regional charter fleet in terms of fleet size with 78 jets as of June 2020. Many of the reductions to the mainland fleet were in the long-range and large-cabin categories. Singapore was the main growth driver for all the Asia Pacific region and saw an increase of 10 charter jets (45 per cent growth) on 2018.

Textron and Bombardier have the largest charter market share with 28 per cent each, followed by Gulfstream (17 per cent) and Embraer (10 per cent). In terms of size category, the region prefers larger sized charter aircraft; large and long-range charter jets represent nearly 50 per cent of the charter jet fleet. However, light sized aircraft saw the largest net addition between 2018 to 2020 by eight. Most of the additions were to Australia and are mostly used for charter operations within Oceania.

Gulfstream G450, Embraer Legacy 650 and Dassault Falcon 2000, all of which belong to the large-size category, are the most popular charter models in the Asia Pacific region with 15 jets each. The past two years have been difficult for regional business jet operators in the Asia Pacific region, as can be seen from the slowing growth in major markets like greater China. Still, Deer Jet continued its reign as the largest regional charter fleet operator in 2020. Notably, many charter operators also managed to increase their operational capacity; Sino Jet by five, OJets by four, Seletar Jet by four and ExecuJet by three.

In terms of flight activity, the beginning of 2020 saw a significant decrease for both commercial and private, as countries imposed restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, there was an upsurge in cargo charter bookings, mostly medical PPE. However, due to travel restrictions, the demand could not be met by the supply. To offset cost lost by the restriction of passenger travel, several airliners reconfigured to fly cargo. This trend is expected to continue as long as travel restrictions are imposed. Charter flight activity in 2019 was mostly for short-haul leisure flights while charter flights in 2020 have notably been used for long-haul repatriation flights due to COVID-19. Still, the top two charter flight routes in 2020 are: Hong Kong to Shanghai and Hong Kong to Male in the Maldives.

Illegal charter is an ongoing issue in the Asia Pacific charter market, particularly in the current environment. Several operators operate for-profit flights illegally and often advertise these flights at a lower cost. These illegal charters do not have the correct authorisations or operating certificates, and are held to a lower maintenance and safety standard as flights operated for compensation. Regional operators are now working to educate their clients of the risks of illegal charter.

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