Airbus has unveiled yet another VIP variant of the A320 family, as it works to refine its strategy for the head-of-state market.


Saudi charter operator National Air Services (NAS) has ordered two A319 Executives from Airbus for its Al-Khalaya scheduled business-class shuttle service, rather than the A319 Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) variants earlier predicted (Flight International, 18-24 May). The 44-seat A319 Executive is a standard A319 airliner, without the auxiliary fuel tanks of the ACJ, with a range of 6,300km (3,400nm).


Mohammed al-Zeer, NAS chief executive, says the company did not require the ACJ's range of 8,900km (4,800nm) and lessor BNP Paribas preferred an instantly re-sellable aircraft. At $44 million, the A319 Executive is $10 million cheaper than the A319 Long Range, which has standard business-class seating but retains the ACJ's extra tanks, says Airbus senior vice-president business development for corporate and governmental aircraft Edouard Ullmo.


Airbus has sold "more than 30" corporate variants of the A320 family, including a A320 VIP, and has received interest in an A318 Corporate. It is in discussions with a specialist tour company about a luxury version of its A330 or A340 widebody airliners, say industry sources, although it has been forced to drop the Global Ranger tag for its luxury-interior version of used A340-200s at the request of the aircraft's launch customer last year.


There are around 40 Airbus widebodies flying as VIP aircraft, but Ullmo says Airbus is looking at "some interesting concepts of the A330 and A340 for private entrepreneurs" in the tourist industry.

Source: Flight International