Katsuhiko Kitabayashi
Japan Business Aviation Association

The Japan Business Aviation Association (JBAA), now a non-profit association, was launched on May 14, 1996, for the greater development and propagation of business aviation in Japan.

Though Japan has the world’s second largest economy, the use of business aircraft by companies and individuals for their own business activities lags far behind that in other countries. Although there existed a requirement that preference be given to regularly scheduled air transport with large aircraft to fill the continually growing aviation demand, it became apparent that if this situation remains unchanged, Japan may well be excluded from the framework of global interaction. This sense of crisis that something had to be done spurred 23 companies and groups with an interest in business aircraft, including manufacturers, trading companies, and transportation support companies, to collect membership fees and launch this organization.

In the subsequent 14 years, our organization has grown to 60 members. At the time of our founding, there was little or no understanding and awareness of business aviation. Since then, however, there has been gradual deregulation, as well as an increase in the framework of aircraft operation, despite the crowded condition at many airports. In fact, several airports are now actively soliciting business aircraft for their operations, including Centrair, Nagoya Airport, Kansai Airport, Kobe Airport, Kitakyushu Airport, Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport, and Ibaraki Airport.Moreover, other regional airports have started to express interest in business aviation as a means to revitalize the airport and its surrounding areas.

The growing interest in business aircraft can be attributed to the extremely timely Business Aviation Forum in Nagoya, Japan, held by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) of the United States on February 9, 2007. This “Business Aviation Forum in Aichi” was conducted under the sponsorship of NBAA, and co-sponsorship of JBAA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Aichi Prefecture. In addition to seminars and corporate presentations, 10 business aircraft were displayed. The event attracted 750 people, far more than we anticipated.

On September 19, 2008, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun sponsored the Business Aviation Forum at Nikkei Hall with the special cooperation of the Japan Business Aviation Association. Interest in the event was so great that extra seating had to be provided at the 500-seat hall to enable the participation of everyone that attended.A sharp rise in the number of visits to our website and the increasing exposure in the mass media demonstrates that public interest in business aircraft is growing every day.

The year 2008 was quoted as “The starting year for Business Aviation” (in Japan).In May, JCAB published a research report regarding the increase in use of Business Jets and commenced a study of the guidelines as related to the operational framework of business aviation.The interest in promoting business aviation also increased among political and business communities.We had big expectations that business aviation was about to make a major move.

However, the global economy entered the economic crisis, so called “the worst one in the last 100 years”, triggered by Lehman Brothers filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 15th.Then in late November, during a public hearing at the US Senate with the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies, their use of private jets was publicized in a negative light.This had a major impact and resulted in unfair criticism against large sized companies for just owning business jets, which led those companies to give them up one after another.

Now more than 1 year has passed.The global economy as well as the Business Aviation industry is slowly but steadily recovering.The number of business aviation operation has risen to the level of pre-Lehman crisis.Although the new airplane deliveries have been decreased by 40% in comparison with 2008, it is forecasted to recover by 2011.

Global attention is directed at Asia and Oceania as areas with potential for future economic development, especially China and India with expectations of 9.7% and 6.9% economic growth rate, respectively, in the next 5 years.The Business Aviation industry has high expectations for these countries as a market with the possibility of an estimated increase of 1000 aircrafts in the next 10 years (which would mean a tripling of the existing 450 aircraft).On the other hand, the forecasted increase in Japan is 60 airplanes during the same period, which would be just enough to double the current number.

These numbers have raised concerns that they are insufficient for our country to take economic leadership within the Asia & Oceania region,and that the delay in development of the Business Aviation industry would be a hindrance to the economical growth of our country.We consider it very important to revise the existing framework to enable business planes to more freely access metropolitan airports in order to avoid the situation, “Japan Passing! “

Year 2010 is the 100th anniversary of Japanese aviation history. With the utilization of the 4th runway at Tokyo International Airport, extension of the 2nd runway at Narita International Airport, and acceleration of hub airport scheme at both airports, the entire aviation industry in Japan is predicted to expand in new ways. We strongly hope that 2010 will be the year of growth.

There are still many challenges we face, but we intend to continue to serve as a coordinator, as well as work in conjunction with related international bodies, such as the IBAC and NBAA, and employ our capabilities to the fullest extent in order to overcome those challenges.Your continued advice and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

January, 2010

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