AVALON: Major business jet players optimistic on Australia

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Business jet manufacturers Bombardier and Gulfstream are optimistic of continued steady growth in the Australian business aviation sector, with the top end of the market performing particularly well.

Bombardier has already secured an Australian launch customer for the new Global 7000/8000, while Gulfstream is planning to bring a G650 demonstrator to Australia early in 2012.

Both manufacturers had a significant presence at the Avalon show, with Bombardier displaying a Learjet 60XR, Challenger 300 and Global Express XRS, and Gulfstream bringing a G150, G450 and G550.

Bombardier has 43 Australian-registered aircraft, with the presence of Global Express growing particularly strongly: 15 now operate in Australia as well as two in New Zealand, according to Christophe Chicandard, sales director for South-East Asia and the Pacific.

"The top end of the market - Global Express and Challengers - has performed well with steady growth over the years," he says. The Challenger 605 has proved popular in Australia. "In Australia they want greater range, so although we've had letters of intent for the 300, they have later been converted to the 605," he says.

Bombardier has already secured a launch customer in the country for "more than one" of the new Global 7000 and/or 8000 - with the version yet to be decided by the private customer. The 7000 is due to enter service in 2016 and the 8000 in 2017.

Gulfstream is seeing a similar pattern in the country, with its fleet doubling over the last 10 years, especially at the top end of the market. Some 13 Gulfstream business jets are operating in Australia and New Zealand, with G450s and G550s doing well.

"We expect to continue to grow the large-cabin aircraft fleet in Australia because of the sheer distances you have to travel here," says Roger Sperry, regional senior vice-president international sales.

Gulfstream believes Australia is potentially a good market for the G650, deliveries of which start next year.

Sperry says a lot of new buyers are beginning to enter the Australian business jet market, which gives it optimism for the future.

ExecuJet agrees, with the company talking to three potential new operators. "We are very encouraged by what is going on down here, the market is very active," says Andrew Hoy, managing director of ExecuJet Aircraft Trading.

ExecuJet's managed fleet in the country is growing, with a seven-strong managed fleet of Learjet 60s, Global XRS, Gulfstream GVs, G550s and GIV-SPs shortly to be joined by another Global XRS and potentially a Challenger 604 and GIV-SP.