NBAA: Airbus sees recovery in VIP airliner sales

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Airbus Corporate Jetliners is on course to more than double sales of VIP-configured Airbus airliners this year, as it begins to see market demand increase.

"Sales have been picking up since the beginning of the year," says Airbus executive and private aviation sales vice president Francois Chazelle. "If you're counting since the last NBAA, we had three sales at the end of last year, and another eight so far this year."

The 11 aircraft sold since last year's show include six A319-based ACJs and one A318 Elite on the narrowbody side, plus one A330-200 and three A340-500 Prestiges. The third Elite for Swiss VIP charter operator Comlux is on display in the static park at the show.

While Airbus sold only a "handful" of aircraft in 2009, total sales for this year are expected to comfortably reach double figures, says Chazelle. Deliveries reached a record-breaking 14 last year and are expected to increase further, to 16, for 2010, he adds.

Meanwhile, Chazelle does not believe that the launch of Bombardier's new Global 7000 and 8000 models threatens sales of the ACJ, which offers a larger cabin despite not being able to match the range capabilities of the Globals.

"What they are doing is driving the prices even further into our range," he says.

Airbus has now sold more than 170 VIP airliners, comprising more than 110 narrowbodies and 60 widebodies, says Chazelle.