Attitudes in Asia towards pre-owned aircraft have changed to the extent that for the first time more used aircraft entered Greater China last year than new ones.

Five years ago you wouldn’t have imagined that happening, says Hong Kong-based David Dixon, President of Asia for aircraft sales, marketing and consulting firm Jetcraft (Chalet 14).

“Some years ago, only new aircraft were sold. As confidence, knowledge and awareness grows, so the pre-owned market has grown.” Jetcraft sold a record 93 aircraft around the world last year.

Asia is very close to equaling Europe in terms of activity, he says, which is a sure sign of growing maturity.

In many areas in Asia Pacific pre-owned aircraft were previously a no-go, but now they have become acceptable. One reason, Dixon notes, is the development of infrastructure to support aircraft in service. “There are now people who can support, understand and explain what’s involved if an aircraft is five years old and out of warranty. It’s not a scary subject.”

Dixon says he recalls when the only service center was Jet Aviation in Singapore, a huge distance from many places like Beijing. “That would be like telling someone in New York they’d have to fly to Rio de Janeiro for maintenance,” he says. “At that point their interest fades rapidly” and they would buy a new airplane rather than consider a used one. “Now you've got service centers across China: Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing. You've got them in Japan, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Suddenly the infrastructure, the capability and the skill sets are there.”

Dixon says he was always amused by the potential buyer that said “Oh no! I wouldn’t consider a five year old airplane” but had unquestioningly flown in a 20-year-old 777 to go out and see it. Now, with service and support readily available, the comfort level has risen markedly, he notes.