Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer were the biggest winners in an air show business aircraft orders spree by established and start-up operators in the Middle East, Africa and Asia - focused, although not exclusively, on large-cabin types.

With confirmation of the first customer for the corporate version of an Airbus A380 heading a series of airliner-based deals, smaller business jets - such as Cessna's Mustang, Grob's SPn and Embraer's Legacy - also made inroads into a region that has until now been the preserve of larger aircraft.

Unsurprisingly, it was a Saudi royal, Prince Alwaleed, who emerged as the first owner of the A380 Flying Palace, the sale of which was announced at Paris. The Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered aircraft will be fitted out for the prince, whose current personal transport is a Boeing 747-400, at a yet to be chosen completion centre, with Jet Aviation in Basle the favourite. Airbus also signed a memorandum of understanding with C Jet of Hong Kong for the first VIP version of the A350 XWB.

Embraer - a relatively new kid in business aviation - announced an impressive tally, with sales of 18 Phenom 100 very light jets and two Phenom 300 light jets to Indian air-taxi start-up Invision - the country's largest-ever business aircraft fleet order. The Brazilian manufacturer also notched up orders for five Lineage 1000s and two Legacy 600s from Abu Dhabi charter company Al Jaber, which additionally signed for two Airbus A318 Elites and expressed an interest in two A380s.

Orders from Globalia of Spain for eight Phenom 100s, two Phenom 300s and a Legacy were also confirmed, as was an order from Abu Dhabi's Falcon Aviation for a Lineage, three Legacys and four Phenom 300s.

Boeing - characteristically avoiding making order announcements at shows - had a quieter Dubai. However, Lufthansa Technik confirmed that it would be the first to outfit a corporate version of the 747-8 for an unnamed customer, while the world's biggest customer of Boeing Business Jets - Abu Dhabi's Royal Jet, which has five - announced plans to ramp up its turnover fivefold to $500 million by 2012.

Other significant news included:

  • Bombardier will deliver a Challenger 605 and Learjet 45 to Nigeria's Dana Airlines, and a 605 and Global 5000 to Rizon Jet of Bahrain.
  • Egypt's Z-Aviation signed for four Grob SPns, while Trade Links of Kuwait is taking one to run services into Iraq.
  • Saraya Aviation of Abu Dhabi has ordered three Gulfstream G450s, while fellow Abu Dhabi charter company International Business Centre is taking the first Israeli-built G200 in the region.
  • An unnamed Saudi start-up is committing to up to seven Dassault Falcon 7Xs.
  • Open Sky of Lebanon will take two Cessna Mustangs for air taxi services.

Source: Flight International