Strategic observation

Interview: China's Belt and Road initiative boosting global aviation

2018-07-10 21:14:07 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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by Xinhua writer Hu Tao

BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Emerging markets are driving innovation in the global aviation sector and China is setting a good example, says the head of Avia Solutions Group.

Avia is preparing to team up with Chinese partners to open up opportunities in countries participating in China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, said chairman Gediminas Ziemelis.

The group is to open work with Chinese partners to invest in six full-time simulators in China and train up to 1,000 pilots by 2022, he said.

It also has the willing to further expand the business in the B&R market in fields including maintenance repair operations, aviation personnel training and high-tech solutions.

"It is the right time to partner with Chinese enterprises to boost connectivity," said Ziemelis.

Lithuania-based Avia Solutions Group, a holding company of aviation support and services businesses, has operations in 40 countries, most of them along the B&R.

BIG DEMAND

China is undoubtedly one of the most powerful "engines" of the global aviation industry, said Ziemelis.

Avia's sister company, AviaAM Leasing, established a successful aircraft leasing joint venture with Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Co., in central China's Henan Province, in 2016. The joint venture has 14 brand new A320 and B737 aircraft.

China will receive more than 6,300 new aircraft over the next 20 years, according to a Boeing forecast in 2017.

The International Transport Association (IATA) forecasts China will surpass the United States to be the world's largest civil aviation market by 2022.

"The new opening in the market will be pilot training," said Ziemelis.

Each new aircraft means a demand for 20 to 22 pilots, he said, and each working pilot needs at least 12 hours of training in a full flight simulator each year.

BAA Training, a subsidiary of Avia, provides 40 types of personnel programs.

"We are looking for local partners and sites to locate full-flight simulators here in China in the next six to 12 months," he said.

STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITY

The booming civil aviation industry in China and other B&R countries, especially emerging markets, makes them a strategic opportunity for the global industry.

"We have a clear idea of their demands in connectivity, as well as their pain spots," Ziemelis said. "We are a natural connection between emerging markets and the developed western market, in particular the 'old Europe'. We understand both, and it is time for us to connect them."

The emerging markets along the B&R share challenges in developing the civil aviation industry, such as the extreme shortages of personnel, finance, efficient high-tech management tools, as well as infrastructure.

BAA Training established a modern flight training facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is set to introduce the latest full-flight simulators for an Airbus A320 pilot training by mid-2019.

"Data-driven solutions and innovative process management tools might make emerging market countries more dynamic, effective and flexible in developing their aviation sectors," he said.

For example, cloud-based systems could make small and medium-sized airports more cost-effective.

He is aiming for the group to realize annual turnover of 5 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

"We anticipate that 20 percent of that could come from business in South-East Asia and China," he said. "Partnership with Chinese enterprises gives us faster access to B&R countries with win-win cooperation."