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Airbus Corporate Jets pins 2013 hopes on market rebound

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) hopes for a stronger sales performance during the coming 12 months after a "soft" market for VIP airliners in 2012 contributed to it adding only five gross orders to its backlog.

On top of that, two cancellations of ACJ318s, caused by the airframer undertaking "housekeeping" on its orderbook, took the net figure down to only three aircraft.

The division is pinning its hopes for 2013 on an improved market, including several ongoing governmental campaigns. François Chazelle, ACJ vice-president, says the contests offer potential for sales right across its range. He says: "It's mostly at the smaller end, but I could imagine some appetite coming back for widebodies too."

Airbus ACJ318 interior Airbus


Additionally, ACJ intends to bolster its widebody sales through the disposal of a number of former Singapore Airlines A340-500 passenger jets, which are returning to Airbus as part of a deal for new A350s. In all, Airbus will receive five of the A340s from the carrier and Chazelle is confident the corporate jet operation will be able to move some of them on. However, its ability to sell all five aircraft is constrained by capacity later this year at completions centres, he says.

To support the sale of the A340s, the division has developed a new three-class interior for the type. Called "Gala", it offers a VVIP cabin between doors two and three, with potential to install first-class seating at the front and a business-class section to the rear.

"It's something we have asked the outfitters to quote on and we believe we have come up with quite an attractive package and price," he says. The Gala concept will also be available for new-build ACJ330s and the conversion of existing commercial A330s.

Further down its range, Chazelle remains confident its "entry-level" ACJ318 will continue to attract interest, particularly with the Enhanced package, including the addition of the sharklet wing-tip modification, which it launched at the NBAA show in 2012.

Although there has been no decision on the future of the ACJ318 following its exclusion from Airbus's re-engining plans for commercial A320-family jets, Chazelle says production will continue at least until 2018-2019 despite the overall transition to assembly of the Neo range from 2015. "There's no real obstacle to build the two in parallel," he says.

There is also no indication yet whether Airbus will offer re-engined variants of the ACJ320 family.

In 2012, ACJ booked orders for two ACJ318s, two ACJ319s and a single ACJ330, handing over nine aircraft in total.

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