To meet surging demand for its executive jets, Airbus is appointing Stork Fokker in the Netherlands as an additional completion center and reviving the defunct company-owned Sogerma completion center located within Airbus’ premises in Toulouse, France. This new facility is called Airbus Corporate Jet Centre and will be independently managed to provide the flexibility needed in the VIP market. It is set up as a separate company majority-owned by Airbus, with additional investment from external shareholders. Initial plans for the new Corporate Jet Centre call for the completion of three Airbus VIP aircraft per year.
Airbus enjoys strong demand for its family of VIP aircraft and announced 14 firm orders for the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ), based on the A318/319/320 family, plus three firm orders for VIP versions of the A340 since the beginning of this year. In addition to the ACJ family, Airbus offers VIP versions of all its aircraft, including the giant A380, but has no plans to date to develop a VIP version of the new A350. The total value of the 17 orders for corporate aircraft secured so far this year is about $1.1 billion. This compares to 20 orders for VIP Airbus versions for the whole of 2006. Since entering the corporate jet market in 1997, Airbus has sold 80 of the ACJ family.
Airbus can insert a limited number of VIP aircraft without causing delays in the massive flow of airliners it produces, but backlogs at the factory-approved completion centers prevent timely deliveries to the customers. To address this problem, Airbus tapped the expertise of Stork Fokker, which announced yesterday that it has received a contract to complete an A318, and decided to resuscitate the Sogerma operation. Stork Fokker joins Jet Aviation Basel and Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg as factory-approved outfitters in Europe. VIP versions of the Airbus are also completed in the U.S. by Associated Air Center in Texas and by the Good Design company. Airbus may later appoint one or several completion centers in Asia.
Among the recent sales of Airbus executive transports was an order for five A318 Elites from Petters Group Worldwide, announced here on Monday. Petters Group, the U.S. launch customer for the model, has six total orders for the A318 Elite, making it the world’s largest operator of the airplane.