Latin America a key player in sustaining aviation industry

The Latin American market for business jets is under-appreciated, aviation consultant Brian Foley said this week.

About 10 percent of the world’s business jets are in Latin America, and the region operates on a somewhat different economic cycle.

As economies elsewhere struggle, Latin America will continue to play a key role in sustaining what has been a troubled industry, said Foley with Brian Foley Associates.

“Were it not for the steady activity the region has provided, especially during this recent downturn, our manufacturers would be in ever direr straits today,” Foley said in a statement about the region.

Foley’s remarks came as the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition – LABACE – prepares to open Wednesday at the Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The show runs through Friday.

The traditionally strong markets in Europe and the Middle East have experienced yearly decreases in their fleets, while those in South and Central America have steadily made gains, Foley said.

The region’s fleet grew 10 percent in the past year, by nearly 200 airplanes, bringing the total fleet operating in the region to 2,100 planes, he said.

The smallest and largest jets had the most growth, with the under 10,000 pound models, such as Cessna Aircraft’s Citation Mustang and Embraer’s Phenom 100, rising 20 percent.

The over-35,000 pound jets, meanwhile, such as the larger jets made by Dassault, Gulfstream, Bombardier and converted airliners, rose 17 percent, Foley said.

“It’s a classic case of muddle in the middle, with all the action happening here at the top and bottom ends,” he said in the statement.

Brazil has become a key market for Hawker Beechcraft’s product line, Richard Emery, Hawker Beechcraft’s president of the Americas, said in a statement.

Brazil is the company’s second-largest market for sales outside the U.S.

“LABACE is an important event in world aviation and has gained increasing importance in our company’s strategy in the Latin America region,” Emery said in the statement.

Hawker Beechcraft will display six airplanes at its chalet at the show: the Hawker 4000, Hawker 900XP, the King Air350ER, King Air 250, King Air C90GTx and a Baron G58.

Cessna’s authorized sales representative, TAM Aviacao Executiva, will represent the company at the show. Cessna representatives from the area will also be in attendance, the company said.

TAM will have a Citation XLS+ and Citation Sovereign on static display there.

Bombardier will have two Learjets, the Learjet 45XR and Learjet 60 XR, on display along with a Challenger 300 and Global 6000.

It also is offering the Latin American version of Safety Standdown before the show opens. Safety Standdown presents a variety of training on aviation professionalism and safety to pilots and other professionals.