Airbus has become a leading supplier of corporate and executive jetliners to the world market, with a growing order book that covers the full product line from its smallest aircraft - the A318, to its largest - the A380.
A record number of sales have been logged so far this year by the Airbus Executive and Private Aviation team, including five VIP A330s/A340s, and the first-ever order for an A380.
"When Airbus entered this market, our goal was to be a player in the sector," explained Richard Gaona, the Vice President of Airbus Executive and Private Aviation. "Today, we have become a predominant supplier."
Airbus outlined its 2007 sales success at this week's National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where the company has a high-profile presence.
Leading the 2007 business activity is the Airbus Corporate Jetliner, which has just passed the 100th sales milestone. Airbus began its ACJ product line ten years ago with just one version - the ACJ, based on the A319 commercial jetliner - and subsequently expanded with the A320 Prestige, followed by the A318 Elite.
All three ACJ family aircraft bring new standards in comfort and spaciousness to the corporate marketplace, with cabins that are significantly larger than traditional business jets. In addition, these modern aircraft have introduced new features such as fly-by-wire flight controls and advanced aerodynamics to corporate aviation.
"Airbus corporate jets are now flying on every continent, and we have a broad, varied customer base that will continue to grow," Gaona told journalists at an NBAA news briefing. "ACJ family aircraft have been acquired by private owners, for VVIP charter and executive shuttle, as well as for government and head-of-state duties."
A new order announced at the NBAA convention is for three ACJs, which are being acquired by Swiss-based VVIP charter company VistaJet. These aircraft will be used as part of the company's expansion in the key markets of Russia and Asia, and are to be configured for seating up to 19 passengers, according to VistaJet CEO and President Bing Chen. The three ACJs will bring the company's fleet to a total of 31 aircraft, and provide it with top-of-the-line corporate jets that meet the requirements of its most demanding customers, he added.
Also included in the announced 2007 business volume are two ACJs for the German government, which are to be acquired for its Ministry of Defence's Special Mission Wing. Lufthansa Technik AG has been selected as prime contractor for the modernisation of the Special Mission Wing's medium-range fleet, with the company taking responsibility for the ACJ acquisition and cabin outfitting.
The German order followed a competitive tender in which the ACJ was once again selected for government use, following similar decisions by Azerbaijan, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Oman, Qatar, Thailand, Turkey, the Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates Venezuela and other countries.
Sales for Airbus widebody VIP aircraft in 2007 include four A340s and the landmark order for the initial VIP A380.
Edouard Ullmo, the Airbus Executive Vice President for Asia-Pacific, Africa and Corporate Jets, said the A380's 550 square meters of cabin area on its two decks is 50 per cent more than the competing widebody aircraft, which provides unmatched opportunities for interior arrangements.
The identity of the VIP A380's initial customer is expected to be revealed before year-end.