Airbus is talking directly to potential US buyers of its A319 Corporate Jet (ACJ), following the demise of its US marketing partner Avolar.

The United Airlines fractional-ownership subsidiary had agreed to act as North American distributor and provide flight support for up to 15 ACJs.

"We know who Avolar was talking to, and we are now talking to them directly," says Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy.

Avolar had promoted a joint-ownership programme under which up to four customers would form a holding company to purchase an ACJ directly from Airbus, with the United subsidiary then operating the aircraft using crews drawn from the airline's A320 fleet.

To offset the cost of the aircraft, Avolar was offering to operate the ACJ on charters when it was not being used by its owners. Potential customers identified by Avolar included unnamed corporate shuttle services and sports teams.

Leahy says he is not interested in marketing fractional ownership of the ACJ, but wants to sell an aircraft to a single customer. "He can then sell shares if he wants to," he says.

The Boeing Business Jet is available in the fractional ownership market through Executive Jet's NetJets programme, but share sales for long-range, large-cabin aircraft have been hit by the economic downturn.

The shut-down of Avolar, meanwhile, is expected to be complete by mid-May. United Airlines' parent UAL announced in late March that it was closing its business aviation subsidiary, which planned to offer fractional ownership, air taxi, aircraft management and corporate shuttle services, citing unfavourable market conditions.

Source: Flight International