Airbus Corporate Jets throws down the gauntlet to rivals
Airbus Corporate Jets has restructured as a new Airbus integrated business unit, incoming ACJ president Habib Fekih told journalists hereat the Dubai Air Show on Sunday. Two ACJs are on display at the show–an Al Jaber Aviation ACJ318 and a Comlux ACJ320 (Static A49-52).
“We have been selling more corporate jets than Boeing for eight years, so we have now a new benchmark–large business jet manufacturers Dassault, Bombardier and Gulfstream,” François Chazelle, v-p for worldwide sales, told AIN. He admitted ACJs may not have the range or speed of a purpose-built business jet but boasted of his aircraft’s cabin space and comfort. “Our competitors are offering larger and larger jets, with some prices well into the $60- to $70 million bracket,” Chazelle pointed out. The list price for an ACJ318 is $65 million.
Under the new scheme, commercial, program and support activities are regrouped into a single unit. It will also have a direct link to subsidiary Airbus Corporate Jet Centre, the Toulouse-based ACJ cabin outfitter. Therefore, Airbus will be able to make complete offerings, including completion, just as Dassault and other corporate jet manufacturers do.
Fekih expects the better integration of engineering, for example, will help tweak Airbus designs to meet VIP customers’ requirements. He hinted at an increased ceiling, over the current 41,000 feet, to better align ACJs with purpose-built business jet performance.
Asked about last week’s announcement that production of the A340 is to end, Fekih said some will probably be retrofitted into VIP aircraft. “The A340, as a quad [four-engine aircraft], has some attractiveness on certain market segments,” he explained. Some A340-200s and -300s are undergoing VIP outfitting now and Airbus sees -500s/600s becoming VIP jets, too, in the future