With the aim of easing the buying process for its customers, Airbus has introduced a new model of its ACJ319 Corporate Jet here at ABACE. Called the ACJ319 Elegance, the new derivative relieves the customer of some of the nearly endless design decisions by offering a new modular cabin that still allows them to choose from a wide range of lounge, office, dining and conference configurations.
While the airframer acknowledges that some of its customers appreciate the challenge of making all the decisions required to completely outfit an aircraft, such as would be required for the fully customizable version of the 319, there are others who don’t want to invest the time and effort. The company theorizes that most customers basically want the same things in their aircraft, so its modular system will help them quickly determine what they are looking for.
“The ACJ319 Elegance has a fixed front and back, you get a bedroom and a bathroom at the back and at the front you’ve got a galley, two bathrooms and a crew rest,” explained David Velupillai, the company’s marketing director. “Then you, as a customer, choose what you put in the middle.”
Despite the modular approach, there remains vast scope for personal customization in the three remaining cabin zones, according to Velupillai. “You still have a choice of colors and fabrics. It’s essentially the layout that is predefined,” he said. The weight and center of gravity calculations for the modules have already been done, easing the planning process even more.
At the ACJ press conference yesterday morning, Benoit Defforge, making his first trip to ABACE since being named head of Airbus Corporate Jets in February, told the audience the Elegance will carry a price tag about $10 million less than that of the $90 million fully-customizable version. Another benefit of the modular interior will be simplifying future upgrades and allowing easy changes by new owners when the jet is sold.
All the aircraft will be completed by the Airbus Corporate Jet Center (ACJC), the manufacturer’s cabin outfitting and maintenance subsidiary in Toulouse, France, which developed the concept. According to Defforge, who continues in his role as head of ACJC, the first aircraft will take 20 months from order to completion, while the company is aiming for 16 months for future deliveries.
Airbus has sold 170 of its corporate jets worldwide, including some 20 currently operating in China. Here in Shanghai, the company is inviting attendees to visit the Comlux ACJ319, which is making its ABACE debut in the static display.
Airbus Sheds Light on Billionaire Buyers
Airbus for the first time has released results of its “ACJ Billionaires Study,” which focuses on the growing economies in China, the Middle East and Russia. Commissioned by the company from UK-based Ledbury Research, the study predicts that the number of Chinese billionaires will double to more than 1,000 by 2017, rivaling the number in the United States.
The study noted that when billionaires travel, they tend to do so with a large retinue of advisors and staff, who already know their wants and preferences. This allows these ultra-high-net-worth individuals to extend their lifestyles on the ground to the air.
The study determined that billionaires in China travel mainly within the country or to Hong Kong and Macau for both business and leisure–flights that last up to 4-5 hours only. They have an average age of 50, which makes the group among the youngest billionaires in the world, according to the Airbus study. Being of a younger “wealth generation,” they are more likely to spend their wealth than those who have possessed their fortunes for longer periods of time.