Business aviation services group Comlux has strengthened its management team as it seeks to further differentiate itself from competitors in both the completions and refurbishment and aircraft management sectors. In an interview ahead of this week’s EBACE show, the Zurich, Switzerland-based group’s president and CEO Richard Gaona told AIN that Comlux will not be following the cost-cutting approach apparently favored by some competitors.
On July 1, VIP aircraft veteran Arnaud Martin will join the Comlux board as executive vice president. He was formerly vice president of programs with Airbus Corporate Jets and led a team that delivered more than 120 VIP Airbuses, ranging in size from the ACJ318 to the ACJ380. His experience in overseeing cabin-outfitting projects is expected to be a boost to the Comlux America VIP Completion and Services Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In March, Jim Soleo was appointed as the new CEO of Comlux America, which also provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services. He has succeeded David Edinger who has been appointed as executive vice president of Comlux Management and is a group board member.
Gaona acknowledged that the market for widebody VIP aircraft completions has tightened with the reduced volume of new deliveries for both the ACJ and Boeing Business Jets families. He predicted that one or more completions houses might exit the business, leaving a more sustainable base of demand for those surviving.
Comlux was hopeful of securing at least one more ACJ or BBJ completion contract in the build up to this year’s show. It is also pursuing completions projects for an A340, with Airbus now eager to market VIP use for the four-engine widebody. Another new line of business now being pursued more keenly is the chance to refurbish the cabins of the aging ACJ and BBJ fleets that are now approaching heavy maintenance checks. Increasingly, Comlux is expanding its portfolio to include work on a range of Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault jets.
Commenting on the recent move by Airbus to introduce a simplified array of completions packages for customers under its new Elegance program, Gaona predicted that the VIP market will not react well to what he characterized as a low-cost option. “Comlux doesn’t want to do this,” he told AIN. “We have never seen a VIP customer buying something based on standard options. There are probably only three or four hundred people in the world who can buy this type of aircraft and they just don’t think like that. For instance, clients in the Middle East don’t want to be told they have to have the bedroom at the rear of the aircraft. We want to focus on our tailor-made solutions and on innovations.”
Comlux America’s engineering department has developed, manufactured, certified and integrated a lighter air-conditioning system. The new equipment is both quieter and lighter than existing systems.
Here at the EBACE show, the Comlux Creatives cabin design division is introducing its new Five Senses Concept for developing custom-made interiors. The five elements for this approach are definition, concept, material, detail and completion, with the aim being to more fully understand exactly what each customer wants in their aircraft.
“It starts first with the discovery phase ‘hear’ when we listen to our clients ideas, needs and desires,” explained Lauri Church, head of Comlux Creatives. “This crucial information then feeds the concept phase where our designers convert our client’s taste into an aircraft styling.”
The next steps are to carefully select the materials to use for the interior and then move into the detailed phase of the design to allow everyone to clearly visualize what will be delivered. Once this is settled, the completion work itself begins.