The Chinese are on the fast track to building a general aviation system, and theyre buying everything: planes, parts, training, mechanics, airport construction technology and expertise.
Thats why a delegation from Wichita spent almost two weeks in China in late October pitching what the Air Capital is selling.
Mayor Carl Brewer, Vice Mayor Janet Miller, state Sen. Carolyn McGinn and Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services, led a 14-member delegation to Beijing, Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Xian, Wuxi and Shanghai from Oct. 12 to 24.
The visit initially included meetings with Beijing Superior and Beijing government officials, who were partnering on a bid to buy Hawker Beechcraft. Those visits were canceled when the deal fell through.
Late this week, city officials reported $19,432 in expenses for six people Brewer, Miller, police security and the citys Sister Cities delegation: Marty Miller of Botanica, Thom Rosenberg and his wife, Adrienne. Kaifeng is a sister city for Wichita.
City officials say the trip yielded an unbelievable collection of business possibilities that potentially could help revitalize Wichitas general aviation sector.
China doesnt have general aviation for the most part, Miller said. Their general aviation is ag spraying and thats about it.
Chinas air space is not open, Miller said. However, a plan to open it began in 2011 and will be complete in 2015. Thats when the Chinese intend to have their general aviation operation up and running.
They dont have business jets flying around for business, Miller said. They dont have Chinese citizens flying around. They have no Jabara airports, very few planes, no pilots, no training, no maintenance, no fixed based operations.
And guess what? Those are all things we do.
The Chinese are ready to buy, Page said. And they have the cash to do it.
So the trips goal, officials said, was information gathering and face-to-face meetings with the Chinese, to develop a strategic plan to cast Wichita as the Air Capital to the Chinese.
Business/Trade and Sister Cities Delegation Travel Expenses
|Name||Airline||Per diem||Visa||Luggage||Hotel,Tour, translators||Gifts||Communications||Reimburse||Total|
|Vice Mayor Miller||$1,843||$1,263||$145||$360||($1,263)||$2,348|
|Lt. K Vaughn||$1,843||$1,263||$145||$134||$360||$3,745|
|Sister Cities Delegation Travel Expenses|
|City delegation combined||$308||$150||$458|
Those face-to-face meetings were important, Brewer said. The Chinese dont do business with people they havent met. Once Americans earn the designation my friend, business can be done.
We met a lot of individuals at the highest levels, and we were able to learn in detail what their needs are in the aviation industry, Brewer said. We were able to go through various areas of the country and sit down and talk with them, and thats what made this trip so good.
Theres no substitute for face-to-face meetings with the Chinese, Page said. Weve got to go over there, shake their hands, meet with them and build relationships with them on a regular basis.
The trips immediate goal is to move quickly as money permits to mobilize the citys general aviation manufacturers and subcontractors to get a Wichita presence established in China, Page said. Steps include:
• A management exchange program where Kansas Global would place a staff member with one of the citys partners in China and would receive a staff member from China in the Wichita office.
• Develop a Wichita-China Aviation Advisory Council.
• Increase the number of China business/trade mission trips to two to four a year.
• Host Chinese delegations visiting the U.S. in Wichita.
• Develop the Air Capital of the World brand in key spots in China.
• Open Wichita-China offices in strategically selected Chinese cities.
The goal is to capture first mover status as Chinas first major American business partner for general aviation, Page said. Thats because the Chinese want to fly now, Brewer said.
We talked to this one mayor who wants our planes already, Brewer said, chuckling. I told him, We have a nice selection of used planes here for him to see. That wasnt what he wanted. No, no. I want new.
Well, weve got a nice selection of those, too.