Max Kingsley-Jones/PARIS


Airbus Industrie is gearing up to take a bigger slice of the business jet market with its A319 Corporate Jetliner (ACJ), as the first one is prepared for service with UK sales and leasing company Twinjet.

Airbus vice-president, commercial operations, Paul Mason says that 14 commitments have been made for the ACJ, and that sales prospects are being improved by the reservation of delivery slots on the production line in Hamburg. "We have set aside four delivery slots in 2000 and four in 2001 to ensure we can offer customers early deliveries," says Mason.

Airbus sees annual demand for up to 24 aircraft in the ACJ category, and Mason says annual ACJ production could be expanded to 10-12 aircraft from 2002.

He confirms interest in a larger ACJ model, which could lead to development of an A321CJ (Flight International, 9-15 June). "We are looking at a 60-seat corporate version of the 93t [maximum take-off weight] A321-200, equipped with two ACTs [additional centre fuel tanks]," says Mason.

With a list price of $35 million "green", plus $4-10 million for interior completion, A319CJ demand has exceeded Airbus' original expectations. The most recent customer, Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed, will take delivery of his green A319CJ next May.

The first customer A319CJ is going through certification with the UK Civil Aviation Authority and will enter service with London Luton-based Twinjet in September. Owned by Kuwaiti businessman Mohamed Abdulmohsin Kharafi, it will be marketed and operated by Twinjet on worldwide charters. The 34-seater is equipped with two private lounges forward and a 24-seat first class cabin aft.

Stephen Wells, Twinjet's commercial manager, says: "An annual utilisation of 200-400h is our target. We are leasing the aircraft from the owner, who will effectively charter it from us when he needs it." Twinjet aims to offer the aircraft to the corporate/entertainment market for an all-inclusive rate of $11,000-12,000/h.

The International Aero Engines V2524-A5-powered A319CJ will have a transport category certificate of airworthiness, while Twinjet is poised to receive its air operator's certificate. "The baseline aircraft can operate non-stop from London to New York, and we are planning to install auxiliary fuel and increase the engine thrust rating to enable us to serve Los Angeles non-stop," says Wells.

The setting up of an in-house charter operation represents a departure for Twinjet, and Wells believes similar deals could follow.

• During the Paris air show, a development flight-test A319CJ arrived at Le Bourget from Santiago in Chile, after completing a record 15h 13min, 12,800km (6,918nm), non-stop flight.

Source: Flight International