GEELONG, Australia—The opening of Beijing’s new airport in 2019 should offer some relief for Chinese business aviation as operators struggle for runway access amid healthy growth of commercial traffic, Dassault Aviation says.                                                                       

Although no plans have been announced, the government is likely to consider whether to consolidate all Beijing business aircraft operations at the new airport. The industry would much prefer to stay at Beijing Capital International Airport, which is closer to the city center.

The opening of the Daxing facility, which is under construction, will free up capacity at the current airport.

Mainland Chinese demand for business aircraft remains moderate, says Jean-Michel Jacob, Asia-Pacific president of Dassault Falcon.

Worldwide, demand is following an only slightly rising trend, says Carlos Brana, Dassault’s senior vice president for civil aircraft. The arrival of new models should help stimulate the market, Brana says.

Amid the depressed demand of about six years ago, the Chinese market was a great hope. But a boom in Chinese orders turned into a slump in 2013-14, shortly after Xi Jinping became president and launched a crackdown on corruption. Owning a personal aircraft, formerly a highly desired expression of prestige, was suddenly seen as risky. Many rich Chinese apparently had reasons to keep a low profile.

Dassault was particularly unfortunate in the unexpected turn of events, because it was investing heavily at about that time to ensure a high level of support for Chinese customers.

The company sold three aircraft to mainland Chinese customers last year, says Jacob, speaking at the Avalon Australian International Airshow at Geelong. Two will be registered outside of China.

Access to runways is meanwhile becoming a further obstacle for users of business aircraft in China. Aircraft can take to the air a day after flight plans are filed, so they are far more useful than they were a decade ago, when days of notice were needed. But getting departure and arrival times is increasingly difficult.

Capital is the most congested of Chinese airports and also the one serving the national capital, where business aircraft users have much work to do. The Daxing airport opening will be a considerable help to the industry, Jacob says.

Although the government has been talking about liberalizing general aviation for years, Jacob notes that little progress has occurred. This is a problem for business aviation because private jet operators much prefer to use uncontested general aviation airfields.

In China, there are almost none—and few will be built until the government allows wider use of propeller-driven airplanes.

The helicopter industry in China is growing, but it does not need runways.