Airbus Industrie has signed the first customers for its A319CJ (corporate jet) as orders for the rival Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) continue to swell.

Boeing announced at the show that it holds 25 orders for its aircraft, which combines the fuselage of the 737-700 with the strengthened wing of the larger -800.

Boeing Business Jets, a company established jointly with General Electric in 1996, revealed five new orders, taking the total to 25 aircraft from 21 customers. PrivatAir, a charter operator of corporate aircraft based in Geneva, Switzerland, agreed to buy two BBJs and took options for a further two.

The first BBJ for PrivatAir will be delivered in June 1999, with the second following in November 1999. Other identified BBJ customers include launch-customer General Electric - with two aircraft - and golfer Greg Norman.

The European consortium launched the A319CJ in June. Despite its late entry into the corporate field, which already included the BBJ, Bombardier Global Express and the Gulfstream V, Airbus has commitments for seven aircraft from unnamed customers.

John Leahy, the company's senior vice-president for commercial aircraft marketing, says that the memoranda of understanding will be followed by firm contracts. He says that one customer is purchasing two aircraft.

Airbus expects annual sales of large long-range executive aircraft to total 60-65 units, with Airbus and Boeing accounting for about 24 of them. Boeing is more bullish about its own success, having said recently that it intends to build 24 BBJs a year from 1999 onwards. The first aircraft is due to be rolled out in June 1998.

The first BBJs sold for $30.5 million, but the price for an unfurnished "green" aircraft rose to $32 million on 1 July. BBJ president Borge Boeskov says that the price will rise again early in 1998, to around $34 million. Airbus is selling its A319CJ for $35 million.

Aircraft-interior completions are offered at six sites, says Boeskov. These include Jet Aviation in Basle, Switzerland, and Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany. K-C Aviation, Associated Air Center in Dallas, Raytheon E-Systems in Waco, Texas, and Jet Center in Van Nuys, California, will also undertake finishing work.

Leahy says that Airbus is to appoint four aircraft-interior completion houses: one each in Europe and the Far East and two in the USA. Both aircraft will incorporate long-range auxiliary fuel tanks.

Source: Flight International