The Airbus A318 Elite - the newest and smallest Airbus Corporate Jetliner family member - is rapidly building its worldwide customer base, with 22 firm orders and 11 options booked since the aircraft's go-ahead 18 months ago.
U.S.-based Petters Group Worldwide has become the A318 Elite's largest customer, announcing a firm contract today for five aircraft, which is in addition to the company's original order for an A318 Elite.
The Petters Group Worldwide's acquisition was outlined today at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, where the no. 1 A318 Elite is on display following its 10 May delivery to Comlux Aviation. This initial A318 Elite was brought to EBACE following the aircraft's first transatlantic non-stop flight to the U.S. on 16 May, which demonstrated the corporate jetliner's ability to link Europe with the United States.
"Airbus is truly delighted with the A318 Elite's success, and there is an excellent future for this aircraft," said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer - Customers. "The A318 Elite has attracted customers because of its cabin - which has almost three times the volume of top-end business jets, and is much more comfortable - and because it incorporates the latest technology from Airbus, including fly-by-wire flight controls and a head-up display."
Thomas J. Petters, the Petters Group's Chairman and CEO, said its A318 Elites will be made available for his organisation's own transportation requirements, as well as for charter flights, offering unmatched comfort for passengers.
"We have investments in over 60 companies and operationally manage 24 of them, including Polaroid, and there is a great need for the A318 among our customers in the U.S.," Petters explained. "In addition, the A318 Elite is an excellent aircraft for charter services, which we will offer through our Minnesota-based aviation operation."
The A318 Elite's service introduction with Zurich, Switzerland's Comlux Aviation will provide a much better product for its VVIP charter service, according to CEO Ettore Rodaro. "We are proud to have received the no. 1 A318 Elite from Airbus this month, and I can confirm it is a truly great airplane," Rodaro said. "This aircraft is in a league of its own, and once our customers experience it, they will not want to go back to smaller business jets."
To date, a total of more than 80 sales have been booked for the Airbus Corporate Jetliner Family, which is derived from the highly popular A318/A319/A320 series of jetliners. The Airbus Corporate Family includes the A318 Elite, the A319-derived Airbus ACJ, and the A320 Prestige.
In addition to Comlux Aviation (which has ordered five A318s and one ACJ) and Petters Group Worldwide, Airbus Corporate Jetliner customers and operators include Aero Services Executive of France, the Al Kharafi group/Twinjet of Kuwait, ADI/Blue Moon Aviation of the U.S., China Sonangol, DaimlerChrysler of Germany, Italy's Eurofly, JETALLIANCE of Austria, National Air Services of Saudi Arabia, Pharmair of the U.S., Switzerland's PrivatAir, SAAD of Saudi Arabia, Qatar Airways, the UB Group of India and Austria's Strumpf Group, along with leasing companies CIT Aerospace and SALE.
The Airbus Corporate Jetliner also has been selected by a growing number of governments, including Azerbaijan, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Oman, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
In the photo above, Petters Group Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Petters (left) and Comlux Aviation CEO Ettore Rodaro (right) join with Richard Gaona, the Airbus Vice President of Executive and Private Aviation, during the A318 Elite's stopover at Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport. The aircraft came to the U.S. capital city after completing its first non-stop transatlantic flight from London to Boston.