EBACE Convention News

Airbus snags $1.5 billion order for six A350 Prestige bizliners

 - May 20, 2008, 11:35 AM

Airbus received its largest-ever order for corporate jetliners with the placing of a $1.5 billion order for six A350 Prestige aircraft by Jeddah, Saudi Arabia-based MAZ Aviation.

The aircraft, one A350-800 and five A350-900s for delivery between 2015 and 2019, are for separate private customers in the Middle East who are already owners of Airbus aircraft, said MAZ Aviation founder and chairman Mohammed Al-Zeer, as he signed the six contracts on behalf of his clients during the first day of EBACE 2008. All six aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and will have VIP cabins, although the choice of outfitters has yet to be announced.

MAZ Aviation managed the selection and acquisition of the aircraft for its customers, who will not be disclosed, and will manage the aircraft on their behalf, said Al-Zeer. “This is a unique arrangement using our buying power and relationship with Airbus to serve our clients,” he added. “We have everything under one roof, as managing the whole thing from beginning to end is much easier.

“This is a new way of acquiring aircraft for VIP customers. Airbus was willing to listen and willing to think out of the box. Very few manufacturers are willing to do that,” said Al-Zeer, who worked for NetJets Middle East for eight years before setting up MAZ Aviation two years ago.

Al-Zeer also said emphatically that the aircraft wouldn’t be chartered and that it wasn’t fractional ownership. “They will be personalized, just like a yacht,” he said, while adding that MAZ Aviation would also be able to use the aircraft. Al-Zeer was not clear on how this would work but said it would be on a 60-to-40 ratio with the owners.

Edouard Ullmo, Airbus executive v-p for Asia-Pacific, Africa and corporate jet, said, “This model is a trend I see continuing in other regions of the world, where a group of customers are brought together in each region. It’s a win-win-win situation.”
Airbus previously announced two other orders for the A350XWB Prestige, when C Jet of Hong Kong and an undisclosed Asian customer ordered one A350-900 each in November 2007. The total A350 orderbook currently stands at more than 350 aircraft.

Airbus COO of customers, John Leahy said, “With this commitment from MAZ Aviation, the Airbus A350XWB Prestige is certainly off to a racing start in the important Middle East VIP market.”

The deal followed the announcement at the show yesterday that Comlux Consulting, a joint venture between Comlux Aviation and MAZ Aviation, had acquired a 40-percent stake in the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre in Toulouse, which completed its first aircraft (an ACJ) last month. (Comlux is at Booth No. 475 and Airbus at Booth No. 7742).

Meanwhile, Jetalliance of Vienna, Austria, has placed a follow-on order worth $185 million for one ACJ and two A318 Elites for delivery in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The aircraft management and charter company previously placed orders for one ACJ and four A318s. The ACJ and one A318 have already been delivered, while the next A318 will be delivered in “March or April 2009,” said Jetalliance CEO Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer. Jetalliance is exhibiting at Booth No. 146.

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