VANCOUVER — Canadian plane maker Viking Air on Friday announced its plan to sell 400 Twin Otter Series seaplanes into China in the next 10-15 years, marking itself the first Canadian company benefitting from the Bilateral Aviation Technical Arrangement signed by China and Canada in February.
At a press conference held in Vancouver’s seaplane harbor on Friday, Viking Air’s CEO David Curtis told reporters that he was excited to gain access into China’s large private market.
“Anywhere from scheduled commuter operators, you know the 19-seat, airport-to-airport plane operators, similar to Harbor Air. You’ve got mining oil and gas resource companies who will use them in the north to replace expensive helicopters who are currently doing the work that the twin Otter can do. So the customer base is wide,” Curtis said.
Under the Bilateral Aviation Technical Arrangement, Transport Canada and China’s Civil Aviation Authority are streamlining approvals for aeronautical products and parts, so that companies on both sides of the Pacific can have an easier time reaching aviation deals.
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Canadian National Revenue Minister, said at the press conference that they were here to mark the first fruit of the Canada-China arrangement as Viking Air became the first Canadian company to benefit from it.
“China has recognized the Canadian type certificate for Viking’s Twin Otter 400 series, which means Viking can now sell his aircraft into the Chinese market,” the minister added.
Curtis said they were now in talks with Chinese partners to create maintenance centers in China to keep the planes in the air long after they are sold to Chinese customers.
The 19-seat planes sell for a base price of around 6.5 million CAD (USD 5.2 million ) and Viking Air estimates that the whole deal will translate into 3.5 billion CAD (USD 2.8 billion) in sales into China over the next 20 years.
China’s consul general in Vancouver Liu Fei attended the press conference and lauded Canada’s aeronautical industry, saying Viking Air was wise to get a foot into China’s large aviation market.
China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, with total bilateral trade between the two countries topping USD 70.5 billion in 2014, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.