Recovering sales of Falcon business jets during the first half of this year significantly bolstered group consolidated orders for Dassault Aviation. The company announced half-year results on September 16, showing orders for 28 Falcons logged between January 1 and June 30–a 75-percent increase on the 16 aircraft sold during the same period last year.
Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne told a Paris press conference that he expects Falcon orders to continue rising to reach a total of between 55 and 60 aircraft by year-end. As of the middle of last month, the order tally stood at 40 aircraft, the same number ordered during the whole of last year. As of June 30, Dassault had delivered 22 Falcons, compared with 15 during the first half of last year.
Consolidated group orders for the first half of this year were valued at $1.1 billion (e1.32 billion)–a 29-percent increase on the first half of last year. This year, Falcon orders accounted for 78 percent of the total, compared with 66 percent last year.
The group’s consolidated net profits were $142.8 million (e119 million), which was 16 percent down from the $169.2 million (e141 million) achieved in the first six months of last year. However, Dassault expects an acceleration in aircraft deliveries to improve its profitability by year-end.
Edelstenne said that Dassault has increased output of the Falcon line–excluding the 7X–to just over five aircraft per month. This number is still below the previous peak output of 6.5 aircraft per month, but the group’s chairman praised Falcon executives for having “pre-empted the crisis” by quickly scaling back production when it became clear in 2001 that demand was softening. He also reported that Dassault currently has “hardly any” used Falcons to sell and claimed that its competitors had “panicked and lost money” by offloading pre-owned inventory hastily when prices had begun to drop.
For the first time in public, Edelstenne admitted to journalists that the French manufacturer had been on the receiving end of “strong reactions from clients and prospects” over the French government’s opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. However, he insisted that the political row had not had a discernible effect on business. “Some of our long-standing clients did call me to express strong sentiments about France[’s position],” he revealed. “But at the time the market was flat and we didn’t lose any sales that we could identify. No negotiations were broken off and we are not aware of having lost any business to competitors [for this reason].”