Air­plane mak­ers lure cus­tomers with Chi­nese-themed in­te­ri­ors

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - ByWANG YING in Shang­hai wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

So­phis­ti­cated Chi­nese buy­ers are putting for­ward higher re­quire­ments on busi­ness jets to match their cabin pref­er­ences on their fly­ing prop­erty, which could cre­ate more op­por­tu­ni­ties in the in­dus­try, an avi­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive said.

“We have no­ticed a grow­ing de­mand among Chi­nese cor­po­rate jet buy­ers for tai­lor­made dec­o­ra­tion and de­sign, which means a huge mar­ket po­ten­tial in the fu­ture,” said Liao Xue­feng, chair­man and CEO of China Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Group.

Liao was speak­ing at the Asian Busi­ness Avi­a­tion Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion, which opened in Shang­hai on Tues­day.

Cor­po­rate jets used to be de­signed in ac­cor­dance with Western cul­ture and life­style be­cause its main cus­tomers were in the United States and Europe. How­ever, af­ter some of the rich­est Chi­nese got in­ter­ested in own­ing a jet, they found the Western style was not quite what they wanted, said Liao.

Heidi Fedak, se­nior man­ager for ex­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Gulfstream Aero­space Corp, said the­com­pany willadd ket­tles and rice cook­ers specif­i­cally for Chi­nese cus­tomers in ad­di­tion to re­plac­ing forks and knives with chop­sticks.

On av­er­age, an in­te­rior de­signer will spend a whole year to com­mu­ni­cate with each cus­tomerto takeno­teof his/her pref­er­ence on ev­ery de­tail of dec­o­ra­tion, added Fedak.

“At the be­gin­ning, Chi­nese busi­ness jet cus­tomers tended to buy the big­gest one with long­est range to show their lofty so­cial sta­tus, but now they’ve be­come more ra­tio­nal by look­ing for busi­ness jets that both meet per­sonal and busi­ness needs,” said Ron Ho, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Rock­well Collins China, a US-based in­no­va­tive avi­a­tion and high­in­tegrity so­lu­tions provider for both com­mer­cial and govern­ment ap­pli­ca­tions.

As early as March 2011, Air­bus SAS pro­posed a new­cabin con­cept called Phoenix, which fea­tured a gold and red color scheme. In ad­di­tion, the com­pany also of­fers op­tions of a karaoke fa­cil­ity and a con­vert­ible ta­ble for play­ing cards and Mahjong, said David Velupil­lai, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of Air­bus Cor­po­rate Jets.

Sim­i­larly, by in­cor­po­rat­ing the Chi­nese cul­ture, Brazil­ian man­u­fac­turer Em­braer SA of­fers tailored de­sign se­ries that use Chi­nese paint­ings, lucky images of cloud, plum flower as well as Chi­nese-styled fur­ni­ture, ac­cord­ing to Jay Beever, vice-pres­i­dent of in­te­rior de­sign, Em­braerEx­ec­u­tive Jets.

Av­er­age cost of dec­o­rat­ing a large cor­po­rate air­craft, sim­i­lar to one from Boe­ing Busi­ness Jets, is be­tween $25 mil­lion and $40 mil­lion and it takes up to three years to fin­ish, said Liao.

We have no­ticed a grow­ing de­mand among Chi­nese cor­po­rate jet buy­ers for tai­lor-made dec­o­ra­tion and de­sign.”

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