Boeing Business Jet expects 35% of global sales to be in Middle East

Company warned that falling oil prices could affect its customers in the region.

Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) expects the Middle East to account for about 35 per cent of its global sales, but warned that falling oil prices could affect its customers in the region.

“The Middle East traditionally has been a very core market for us,” Steve Taylor, the BBJ president told a press conference at the Middle East Business Aviation show in Dubai.

The US plane manufacturer added that sales were returning to their pre-financial crisis levels. BBJ has received 13 orders year-to-date, its highest since the economic downturn of 2008.

Boeing also announced two orders for the BBJ Max8 aircraft from the Swiss-based charter operator Comlux. BBJ did not disclose the value of the deal.

Separately, Mr Taylor said that dwindling oil prices could be a double-edged sword for its customers.

“One is that oil prices are coming down and it’s less expensive to operate the airplane. But for a lot of the customers here in the region, this is the [main] source of income.”

Oil has shed nearly 40 per cent of its value since peaking at around US$115 per barrel in June, amid an increase in production in the US.

The Middle East Business Aviation Association 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 continuing conflict in the region, lower oil prices and health crises in Africa.

Mr Taylor said that he does not expect sales of his private jets to be hit by competition from Gulf carriers, who are entering the luxury sphere.

“While the cabin comfort that they have is remarkable, our customers want to go on their own schedule,” said Mr Taylor.

“The schedule is a very important part of how they use this tool.”

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Published: December 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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