Airbus corporate jet unit targets Middle East
Airbus Corporate Jets, a division of Airbus Group, expects to sell 10 aircraft worldwide this year, as the parent company reported a 21 per cent rise in earnings for 2013.
“The Middle East is our most important market, historically and even today,” said David Velupillai, the marketing director at Airbus Corporate Jets.
“If you look at the Middle East you will notice that it is a well-developed market for business jets. It’s well developed in the sense that you have billionaires and governments in the region, which have owned wealth for a long time.”
Several private jet operators in the region are looking to expand their fleet and replace ageing aircraft.
Mr Velupillai said that Airbus had sold around 170 corporate jets to date, since the inception of its corporate jet business in the mid-1980s. About half of their sales have come from the Middle East from clients including Emirates Airline, Abu Dhabi’s Al Jaber Group, Qatari emirs and Kuwait’s Al Kharafi Group.
“Demand from the region will continue to grow. Part of it is new customers and part of it is replacing old aircraft,” he said.
At the Abu Dhabi Air Expo, Airbus had on display the US$87 million ACJ319, configured to seat 19 people. The company said the plane’s spacious interior gave it a “competitive edge”.
Emirates Executive, the corporate jet division of Emirates, has customised the aircraft to fit 10 mini-suites and a lounge.
“On the airline side, the main interest is economics. On the corporate jet side, it’s the cabin,” Mr Velupillai said. “What most people like to do is to give wings to their lifestyle on the ground.”
In the region, the ACJs are targeted at governments, companies, and high net worth individuals. “Governments need an aircraft that might be 30-40 people to accommodate their officials, advisers, and journalists,” he said.
For individuals, the demand is for an aircraft that would fit an “extended family”.
Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace group, yesterday reported €3.6 billion (Dh18.14bn) earnings before interest, tax and one-time items. Sales grew 5 per cent to €59.3bn. It plans to increase the production of its A320 narrow-body aircraft to 46 a month in 2016, up from 42 currently.
Airbus delivered 626 aircraft in 2013 and is targeting a similar number this year.
“Order intake was particularly strong for our Airbus commercial aircraft and provides a solid platform for the future growth of the group,” the chief executive Tom Enders said. “Strong demand allows us now to increase the single-aisle production rate.”
At the Dubai Airshow in November, Airbus won a total of 160 orders and commitments worth $44bn. Demand was mostly for its A380 superjumbo and wide body A350 XWB version. Emirates placed the single largest order for 50 A380s worth $20bn.
The airplane manufacturer said it would deliver the first A350 to Qatar Airways this year.
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Published: February 26, 2014 04:00 AM