Hawker exploring China's market

Hawker Beechcraft's CEO is in talks about a potential partnership with the Chinese as the Wichita planemaker works to sell in that growing market.

"We're in very preliminary exploratory conversations," said Hawker Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander.

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture has been meeting this year with individuals in China "to learn about the market and how that market works and how we can have a larger presence in that market," Alexander said.

A partnership would first concentrate on sales.

"Down the line, we'd have to address things they see as beneficial to their entity in China," she said. "As a company, we're not anywhere knowing what that is or what this would mean for us."

A partnership could focus initially on joint sales, followed over time by parts production or assembly, Boisture told Bloomberg News in an interview in London last week.

"It could mean any variation of those things," Alexander said Tuesday.

The company is in an exploratory phase, learning the market, its players and "determining what looks like a win or success for us and how do you go about that," Alexander said.

Any potential plans will evolve over this year, she said.

Sales to China would benefit the entire company, Alexander said.

China's size — with its 1.3 billion people, skyrocketing wealth, and strong and growing economy — gives the country potential for the beleaguered business jet market, experts say.

And while the business jet market is still in its infancy there, China is slowly breaking down barriers to become more friendly to business aircraft, slowly opening more airspace.

As those barriers decline, Bombardier Aerospace projects demand for 600 business jets in China over the next 10 years.