Business jets provide some respite for Middle East aviation prospects
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Dubai: Not all aircraft being delivered these days are getting the pushback from clients. Airbus’ brand new ACJ 220 business jet happens to be one such.
“There was no negative impact on our backlog (or) on our deliveries,” said Stan Sphaberg, Airbus Corporate Jets Head of Commercial on the ACJ 220. “We see quite a potential in the Middle East - and we still want to keep that as a stronghold for the larger aircraft. But we do believe there is a strong potential for [ACJ 220].”
Demand for business jets has been the one growth story for the global aviation industry, which has otherwise been laid low by the pandemic. Cargo too has provided sparks of possibilities, but so far hasn’t reached levels that can sustain airline operations until passenger demand returns.
And that in turn has forced airlines to delay entry of any new aircraft they had on order before the pandemic hit.
Dispelling the clouds, partially
The business jets, in contrast, continue to hold up, both in terms of demand for those already operational and those ready to be added to fleets. Private jet travel growth soared during the earlier lockdown phase, and could yet stage a strong comeback with another one being in force in the UK and elsewhere.
The Airbus ACJ 220 thus comes to market at a time when business jets are getting a lot of traction. Priced at around $70 million, these aircraft have three times more cabin space than competing jets, and which should play well in times of safe distancing even in the skies. Plus, for owners and operators, Airbus promises a 25 per cent lower fuel burn.
Even when it came to spreading the word, this was different. “It's the first time ever a new product was launched fully digital,” said Benoit Defforge, President - Airbus Corporate Jets. “It's interesting to see how many people had a look at all the movies and information we distributed.
“We are back at the level where business aviation was before the COVID-19.”
Airbus has 60 corporate jets operating in the Middle East, which is about a third of the company’s global presence. There have been enquiries from prospective buyers despite the cancellation of major marketing events and air shows.
Source: Gulf News