Airbus looks to claim bigger slice of corporate jet market with 330 Summit
Airbus hopes to grab a bigger share of the large corporate jet market with the launch of its wide-body A330 workhorse to customers in the region as the delayed rollout of its successor, the long-range A350, helps Boeing gain altitude over its fiercest rival.
With a price tag of less than US$200 million, according to the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) chief Benoit Defforge, the A330 Summit can fly between the Arabian Gulf and the US west coast non-stop and features a bedroom with en suite bathroom, an office and a conference and dining room.
It can accommodate up to 90 passengers. That compares to a list price of $218m for the 787 business jet from Boeing.
“The ACJ330 provides Airbus with a short-term viable corporate jet rival to [the] 787-8/9 Boeing Business Jet [BBJ] until it can devise a longer-term base using the A350 platform,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with StrategicAero Research.
“Given the pressures on businesses and individuals to be less active in the business jet market, demand for this jet will be piecemeal given that many such jets last for many years and are seldom replaced just because something newer exists.”
The first 787-8 BBJ – also known as the 787 VIP – was delivered in December last year, a few months after the commercial version was handed over to airlines. Its main feature is its fuel-efficiency, thanks to a composite frame.
The first A350 is slated to be delivered to Qatar Airways next week and Airbus has an order backlog for 800 aircraft, leaving corporate clients facing a long wait for a bespoke model.
The Middle East is Airbus’s biggest market for corporate jets with more than half of its 170 private aircraft sold in the region, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, it said.
The Middle East Business Aviation Association (Mebaa) – which is hosting an industry event kicking off in Dubai today – has predicted that the number of registered aircraft in the region will reach 1,200 by 2020, up from 530 in 2013.
However, Honeywell Aerospace said in a late October report that business jet demand from the Middle East and Africa had moved below its historical growth rate of 4 to 7 per cent a year, citing ongoing conflict in the region, lower oil prices and health crises in Africa.
The dogfight between Boeing and Airbus for supremacy in the large business jet market is as keen as it is in the commercial sector, with total historical sales of 217 BBJs for Boeing and 178 ACJs for Airbus.
However, with austerity still top of mind for most companies, crude sliding 40 per cent since June and the 787 already being delivered to customers, the pressure is on Airbus.
“It’s a challenging market for everybody but it is a key business tool and allows executives to be more productive,” said David Velupillai, marketing director for Airbus Corporate Jets.
“Sales are less today than pre-2008 for all manufacturers. Today we would expect to sell 10 aircraft a year, whereas a few years ago we would have sold 15 aircraft a year. The market we are in is cyclical with peaks and troughs. We are driven by economic growth and the prospects for economic growth is good.”
The global business jet market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 9.4 per cent between 2012 and 2016, accoridng to Mebaa.
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Updated: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM