After multiple years in the making, a joint business agreement between a Wetaskiwin-based aviation company and another located in China is finally ready to take flight.
John Jeffries, president of Flying Tiger Aviation Ltd., located at the Wetaskiwin Regional Airport, is partnering with Shengda Xiang Yun Aviation Co. Ltd. of Yongcheng, Henan Province, China with the goal of filling an aviation niche that will soon become very popular in the populous Asian nation.
Together the two companies will focus on aircraft manufacturing and assembly, flight training, aircraft charters, aircraft maintenance, aircraft sales, aircraft management, aircraft maintenance training and aircraft parts sales.
Jeffries has loved aviation most of his life and when he was introduced to Hong Fang Zhang, a Shengda Xiang Yun Aviation Co. Ltd. representative, several years ago he knew there could be great opportunities for Flying Tiger Aviation Ltd. in China.
“China is very interested in aviation,” said Jeffries.
“There are some companies over there that want to invest in aircraft manufacturing,” he added
Jeffries says, in the past, the Chinese military has laid heavy restrictions on low level airspace in the country. However, the current government is looking to ease those restrictions. “As soon as those are lifted it will be just like here.”
Having worked in the public sector in China, Zhang knew many influential people and she also felt a partnership between Flying Tiger Aviation Ltd. and Shengda Xiang Yun Aviation Co. Ltd. would be largely beneficial for all those involved.
“I saw he (Jeffries) had very good skills for aviation,” said Zhang.
Zhang says while Canada has a strong, well-established aviation industry China is not as advanced in the industry. Combining the resources both countries have to offer will create stronger development for Shengda Xiang Yun Aviation Co. Ltd. and Flying Tiger Aviation Ltd.
“I wanted to introduce China and Canada to make a company for partnership and friendship,” said Zhang.
The Chinese government is backing the development of 5,000 new airports in the country, in support of aviation. “China, they’re very excited,” said Zhang.
Jeffries says the Wetaskiwin component of the agreement will bring between 100 to 200 jobs to the region.
“All of the manufacturing and assembly will be here to start with,” said Jeffries. As further groundwork for the aviation industry is developed in China, Jeffries says it is expected parts of the business will be picked up and moved there.
Jeffries says this type of partnership is the first of its kind between Canada and China, because of how much is encompassed in the venture.
“We’ve identified a segment of the market we believe is undersaturated,” said Jeffries. By expanding into that market he expects global sales.
With Canada’s more established aviation industry, Jeffries and Flying Tiger Aviation Ltd. will be able to offer training opportunities through the business as well as share his knowledge with his Chinese counterparts. He adds the market for flight training is big in China.