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A319CJ enters service

Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

The first commercially operated Airbus A319 Corporate Jet (CJ) was expected to enter service with Twinjet Aircraft of the UK on 8 November. Owned by Kuwaiti businessman Mohamed Abdulmohsin Kharafi, it will be used for corporate and VIP charter through London Luton-based business charter operator and management company TwinJet.

TwinJet was hoping to receive its air operators certificate (AOC) from the UK Civil Aviation Authority on 5 November. "As soon as we have received the AOC we can begin public transport operations. With the A319CJ, we plan to reach an annual utilisation of up to 600h," says Andrew Pearce, Twinjet's vice-president of sales. The aircraft will be available for corporate VIP charter, including for heads of state and royalty, and roadshows and promotional product launches. "We are leasing the aircraft from the owner who, like our other customers, will have to charter it from us when required," adds Pearce. The 34-seater has two private lounge areas in the forward section and airline-style business class seating for up to 28 passengers at the rear.

It will be offered at $11,000 per hour plus $2,000 for a night stop and $2,500 per landing. This includes airport handling fees.

The International Aero Engines V2524-A50-powered A319CJ has a range of 6,660km (3,600nm) with full reserves, and can operate non-stop from London to New York. TwinJet is looking at fitting auxiliary fuel tanks to the aircraft and increasing engine thrust rating to extend the range to 10,700km, allowing non-stop flights from London to Los Angeles.

Airbus has 18 commitments for its A319CJ to date. Although it declines to disclose details of its delivery schedule, it claims to have sold production slots for the twin turbofan until 2001. "Within this category we see a [total] market for 24 aircraft a year, and we expect to sell half of these," says Airbus.

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