Bombardier targets Asian sales with Global Express at Hong Kong Asian Aerospace show

Bombardier is one of the executive jet makers who are banking big on Asia. The company has its new model — the Global Express — on display at the Hong Kong Asian Aerospace show on this week, to woo rich Asian customers.

The interior of the aircraft has all the comforts company CEOs would need for long flights, including fold-out twin beds, a dining area and tables that can be used as work areas when needed, but can be tucked away when not in use.

Hi-tech luxuries include a button that automatically shuts all window blinds and turns on pink ambient lighting. Five years ago, Hong Kong had a thousand private planes flying in and out; now it's 3,000.

But this kind of luxury comes at a cost. The Bombardier Global Express carries a price tag of $53 million (Rs216 crore). But more and more busy chief executives in Asian countries now believe saving time more than compensates for the cost of the plane.

But the challenges for private aircraft in Asia are many. Countries in the continent have very few general aviation airports. They have to use regular airports, which have very high landing fees.

The cost of the plane is only a beginning; it has to be maintained, and chartered out when not in use. In Hong Kong, Metrojet, the territory's largest operator of private jets and helicopters, fulfils this function. But many other countries have no equivalent.

In many countries, it is bureaucracy that stifles the growth of business aviation in the region. In India, for example, permits to fly can take days to be approved.

Adding everything together — landing fees, overflight fees, ground travel fees and other expenses — the cost of flying to certain destinations can be several thousand dollars per flying hour. In sharp contrast, in North America, there are virtually no landing fees, especially at general aviation airports.