Amid fanfare and the sweet scent of jet fuel, Zurich-based charter operator and A318 Elite launch customer Comlux arrived in Geneva on Sunday with the first example of the business twinjet. It was the airshow debut of this newest member of the Airbus ACJ family, which also includes the ACJ itself and the A320 Prestige.
The aircraft had been flown from London to Boston on May 16 for the formal delivery. The first leg of the trip to Geneva was from Washington, D.C., to Toulouse, France, a flight of seven hours with 10 passengers and eight crew. Among those on the first Elite bird from the Airbus nest were Comlux CEO Ettore Rodaro and Airbus v-p of executive and corporate aviation Richard Gaona.
“When you are in the business of providing comfort and space to a discerning clientele, you want the best,” said Rodaro, “and that is what we now have with the Airbus A318 Elite.”
A second Comlux Elite is scheduled for delivery this year and Rodaro is clearly anxious to build the fleet. The company has ordered a total of five Airbus jets.
In an interview in the U.S. a week ago, he said that he would buy them faster if Airbus could build them faster. But the problem as far as Airbus is concerned is not so much building them more quickly as it is finding slots for them on an assembly line primarily devoted to building A318s to meet airline demand.
The Comlux A318 came with CFM 56 turbofan engines, but the company has not ruled out the Pratt & Whitney PW6000 for subsequent aircraft.
Comlux was formed in 2002 with the idea of becoming a premier long-haul operator. The Zurich company’s fleet now contains five airplanes–the A318 Elite, a Challenger 604, a Global Express XRS, an Embraer Legacy and a Dassault Falcon 2000EX. A second Global is due in September and an ACJ is on long-term lease by a client. According to Rodaro, Comlux also expects to take delivery of a Gulfstream 550 next year.
The Comlux aircraft is designed for 18 passengers, with sleeping accommodation for eight. The cabin is divided, as is typical in the A318, into three distinct zones–lounge, dining area and stateroom. The galley is in the forward section of the cabin and a large lavatory is positioned at the aft. The galley is fully enclosed and opposite the cabin door, allowing for a stylish foyer and private lounge.
The Elite has a range of 3,400 nm with its max load of 18 passengers. The addition of a center auxiliary fuel tank will add another 300 nm. For European operators such as Comlux, the 3,400- nm range allows nonstop travel between city pairs such London and Dubai.