Utility trumps luxury as China private jet buyers fly economy

Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:00pm EDT
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* Plane makers focus on cost, delivery times as market cools

* Anti-corruption drive has discouraged conspicuous spending

* Buyers now looking at smaller planes, emphasis on utility

* Second-hand planes now make up 30 pct of private jet market

By Fang Yan and Siva Govindasamy

SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE, April 14 (Reuters) - Makers of private jets for China's elite are shifting their focus from luxury to convenience, as a cooling economy and long-running crackdown on corruption prompt customers to demand smaller planes and even consider second-hand deals.

Utility is the watchword, say industry insiders, as buyers who once enlisted feng shui masters to help them design cabin interiors that might feature mahjong tables or karoake areas now look for functional desks to work at and rest areas to sleep.

China's richest businessmen remain Asia's top owners of luxury aircraft: the greater China region had 466 private jets in 2015, according to consultancy Asia Sky Group, compared with 65 in 2007. Mainland China accounted for 300 of those.

But for manufacturers such as Bombardier, Dassault , Embraer and General Dynamics' subsidiary Gulfstream the market is cooling, especially for new aircraft, forcing them to prioritise efficiency, keeping production costs low and speeding up aircraft delivery times.   Continued...