FARNBOROUGH: Hawker Beechcraft bolsters sales for in

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Hawker Beechcraft plans to stregthen its sales force in the Europe, Middle East and Africa by two thirds over the next 18 months in an effort to stimulate demand for its business aircraft line throughout its largest market.

The US aiframer - which has a Hawker 4000, Beechcraft King Air 350i and the C90GTx on display at the show - has also realigned its sales force in the region to focus on the individual Beechcraft and Hawker brands. "This move mirrors what we have already instigated in North America," says Hawker Beechcraft EMEA president Sean McGeough, adding that the market for each aircraft family has become segmented over the years. The Hawker customer is typically corporate or VIP with no special mission applications unlike customers of the Beechcraft products, he says.

This economic climate has been tough for Hawker Beechcraft, McGeough admits. The airframer delivered 217 aircraft in 2009, 115 fewer than the previous year and expects shipments to fall again in 2010.

"These are challenging times, but we have a great brand and we are aggressively enhancing our sales effort within EMEA which still holds a number of opportunities for us," McGeough adds.

He points to the emerging African countries particularly Nigeria, where the booming oil industry has spawned a growing number of high net worth individuals. "Russia is also active again and the Hawker 900XP and 4000 are proving popular there," he says. Hawker Beechcraft has nine sales staff which have traditionally sold both products. Now five sales people will dedicated to the Beechcraft types and four to the Hawker family with a plan to add up to six more staff within 18 months. "We have also added one more person to our customer service and after sales support team, based in at our EMEA headquarters in Chester, UK," McGeough says.