Comlux has delivered the first EASA-certificated VIP cabin completion on a Sukhoi Business Jet, and is preparing for the imminent entry into service of its largest aircraft – a VIP-configured Boeing 777-200LR that it will operate on behalf of an upmarket tour company.
The SBJ, owned by Kazakh copper miner Kazakhmys, has 19 seats, with the interior split into two distinct zones. An area at the front includes club-four seating and side-facing sofa, while the main section has 15 seats in a three-abreast configuration.
The 12-month project was carried out at Comlux Completion in Indianapolis and the aircraft has been delivered to Comlux KZ, the Swiss company’s central Asian aircraft management subsidiary.
Comlux says the SBJ is the first of its type on the charter market.
Kazakhmys chief executive Eduard Ogay says the SBJ will allow “a large number of our company executives and employees to travel together efficiently and in full comfort. It is the right business tool for our company.”
Scott Meyer, chief executive of Comlux Completion, says equipping an aircraft without US type certification under EASA requirements was “especially challenging” but shows how “Comlux can adapt and find solutions in any environment to best serve our customers”.
He adds: “We have demonstrated our ability to complete new aircraft type interiors beyond Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets.”
The 777 – which Comlux will operate for Crystal AirCruises under an Aruba air operator’s certificate – will be its third widebody alongside a 767 and an Airbus A330.
Although Comlux did not have the contract to convert the former airliner, its charter division Fly Comlux won the management contract last May.
Richard Gaona reports a mixed performance from the two main arms of the Comlux business. With seven aircraft in its completion hangars, Comlux Completion has prospered, he says, from steady demand in the overhaul market and a decline in numbers of competitors.
He expects an upsurge in activity after 2018 when the first Airbus ACJ320neos and Boeing 737 Max aircraft are delivered. This will lead to both completion contracts for new aircraft and refit work on legacy ACJs and BBJs that are being replaced, he says.
On the charter side, Gaona admits that rates across the sector have been falling, due to faltering demand and oversupply. However, he says hours on its 767 remain strong because there are “less competitors than for traditional business jets”. He adds: “They have not been the best years of charter that I have seen in my career. However, now we have a new French president and a US president, we will have to see if things begin to get better.”