Shanghai is China’s fastest-growing center for business aviation activity, with combined movements at its Hongqiao and Pudong airports setting a record of more than 6,500 in 2017, up 8.3% from the year before.

The trend is continuing, with traffic growing nearly 7% in the first quarter of 2018, and 15% in March alone.

Beijing had the most business aviation aircraft movements in 2017, but it experienced a year-on-year decline of 8% to 9,245 from 10,006, according to figures provided by the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA).

“The pace of operations in Shanghai has been accelerating,” says Carey Matthews, General Manager for Shanghai Hawker Pacific, which operates the FBOs at both airports. “A near-doubling of traffic in just six years highlights the overall acceptance of business aviation in China.”

Shanghai Hawker Pacific is a joint venture between Shanghai Airport Authority and Hawker Pacific.

The Joint Venture has supported the increased traffic through expanded parking. Matthews says, “We set up 9-slot high density parking at Hongqiao in 2016, and that same year, Pudong Airport provided space to set up a very large high density parking area for 20 aircraft.“ Now, another nine slots are being added.

Previously the only parking allowed was in dedicated parking spots sized for a Boeing 747. The requirement was one plane, one spot, regardless of aircraft size.

Shanghai Airport Authority, meanwhile, is exploring doing more for business aviation. At last year’s ABACE it said that it is considering a third airport in Shanghai, dedicated to business aviation. Walsh says there is a strong possibility the SAA will give an update at this year’s show.

Matthews says Beijing will remain number one because there are more businesses in and around the Chinese capital. And once Beijing’s new airport at Daxing opens late next year there will likely be a huge surge in business aircraft movements there.