FSG vision for the future of aviation in China FSG vision for the future of aviation in China

A glimpse into Fokker Services Group's vision for the future of aviation in China

November 23, 2023

One of our rising stars at Fokker Services Group (FSG), Noud Schoffelmeer (Sales Engineer with a degree in Aviation Engineering) had the opportunity to visit China recently and explore growth opportunities there. In this interview, Noud reveals the 3 key strategies FSG should adopt to grab a slice of the pie in China, and the one thing you should never do if you want to thrive in the Chinese market.

The Chinese aviation industry is bouncing back from a recession due to Covid, which saw the complete country going into a months-long lockdown. In December 2022, the country lifted their last mobility restrictions, and in January 2023, it opened again for international tourism, in a much-awaited move that could significantly bolster worldwide growth in aviation, as China remains the world’s second-largest economy and home to approximately one third of the global population.

According to a survey from IATA [1], China’s total air passenger traffic sits at 80% of what it was in pre-pandemic levels. Regardless, China is still looking to become the largest aircraft-operating country worldwide by 2030. Even with a more sluggish economic recovery compared to its historical two-digit growth numbers, the magnitude of the Chinese economy is such that virtually no operator would reject setting foot in this attractive region. By way of illustration, any mid-size regional low-cost operator in China boasts about 100 aircraft, as the population they need to carry is huge by western standards.

However, not everyone is well prepared to take up the challenge, and FSG is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of this expanding market, thanks to various factors such as its strategic international location (Seletar Airport in Singapore in the Asia Pacific region), breadth of aviation skills due to its century-long existence, and strong alliances with most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), that allow FSG to implement best-in-class solutions, ensuring cost efficiency while meeting the most stringent standards of safety.

In a conversation with Noud Schoffelmeer, we delved deeper into the mid and long-term needs of the Chinese aviation market and FSG’s strengths to underpin the demands.

Noud, could you elaborate on the advantages FSG possesses in delivering engineering solutions to the Chinese market?

Several of our engineering solutions are readily available for the Chinese market with higher cost-effectiveness than OEM solutions, while others can be swiftly certified by local authorities. Timing is essential, as Chinese operators are looking for more competitive pricing during this time of economic recovery, and these opportunities are ripe for taking before the market reaches a fully mature state.

If you were to list 3 key growth strategies for FSG within the Chinese market to tackle the opportunities in the next decade, what these 3 would be?

Firstly, I’d say that there’s a lot of room for growing our modifications portfolio, such as LPV, SBAS, and ADS-B Out. These are new technology that airlines will have to adapt to, as mandated by the aviation authority of the country (for instance, all aircraft flying into and over India now have to comply with SBAS as mandated by the authority and all these changes will gradually reach every corner of the planet). We’re talking about more than 8000 single aircraft by 2040 [i] in China only, so translating this into the profit we can make with our modifications portfolio renders very promising numbers for us. We’re uniquely positioned to offer these modifications at a very competitive price compared to the OEMs product offering.

Secondly, seize our capabilities as part of the global FSG network, which boasts a very sophisticated skillset, plus the fact that we offer best-in-class practices imbued in years of experience as OEM ourselves and close collaboration with IAMA (Independence Aircraft Modifier Alliance, which endorses FSG’s modification projects).

And thirdly, I’d say we need to become very familiar with the Chinese market, travel there on a regular basis to really understand their needs, and be able to translate them into winning value propositions.

What advice would you give to your fellow colleagues trying to do business with Chinese counterparts? What to steer away from?

I think the result of our visit was super successful in understanding the needs of various operators and start expanding our branding in the region. I would recommend that you don’t waste the chance to build personal links with them and take the time to nurture these relationships. The Chinese people are very professional but also very spiritual and for them, getting to know you, sharing a dinner together, having a conversation that reveals something about your personality beyond work talk is very important, also as important as the business conversation. I think that’s a very nice cultural feature and certainly recommend everyone to build some time in their agendas to create these connections!

[1] IATA. Air Passenger Outlook. 25/05/2023. Available on: https://www.iata.org/en/iata-repository/publications/economic-reports/air-passenger-outlook-china-reopening/

[i] Bloomberg. 27/10/22. Available on: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-27/boeing-expects-china-fleet-to-double-in-size-in-two-decades#xj4y7vzkg

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Noud Schoffelmeer, Sales Engineer at Fokker Services Group