Airbus is at NBAA hoping to make a breakthrough into the North American market, and is spearheading its marketing push with the ACJ318, an aircraft it said has no direct Boeing competitor.

Despite the success of Airbus Corporate Jets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the European airframer has failed to crack the US and Canada, where the Boeing Business Jet dominates. It has one registered aircraft, with a private customer in Florida.

"We've been doing more demos in the US," said Francois Chazelle, Airbus vice president, commercial and private aviation. "The difficulty is we don't have a US-based charter operator, so availability can be a problem."

Airbus has begun offering sharklet-equipped versions of the ACJ320 family for "a few delivery positions" in early 2013, although it has not yet secured any orders for the fuel-saving variant. Further down the line, Airbus will market the corporate version of the A320neo, the re-engined version of Airbus's narrowbody family which goes into service in 2016, although Chazelle said: "Our clients for the moment want to buy an aircraft that is available in the next two or three years."

He expects the Neo's extra range rather than its fuel economy to be the main appeal to corporate buyers.

Airbus has also been enjoying success with its widebody corporate jets, especially in emerging markets. It has eight orders for the ACJ350 from the Middle East and Asia. However, the only customer for an A380 corporate jet - a Saudi prince, who signed for the aircraft in 2007 - has still not signed a contract with a completion house.

Source: Flight Daily News