As Bombardier makes is annual appearance at LABACE, the Canadian airframer is encouraged by what it is experiencing of late in the region’s business aviation industry.
“We all know that Latin America has been a slow market for the past three years, at least. But there is a recent revival,” said Stephane Leroy, the Montreal-based manufacturer’s vice president of sales for Latin America. “We are seeing renewed activity and renewed interest across the region, not only in Mexico, but also, Brazil is coming back slowly.”
Latin America is the world’s third largest business aviation market, trailing the U.S. and Europe, with an installed fleet of approximately 1,800 aircraft. Bombardier currently claims 28 percent of the region’s private jet fleet; or 685 aircraft.
In its latest 10-year forecast, the company anticipates deliveries of 7,500 business jets globally over the next decade, with 650 of those destined for Latin America, offset by 330 aircraft retirements.
“I like to look at Latin America as a car with four wheels,” Leroy explained. “You have the traction wheels in the front, which are Brazil and Mexico, and you’ve got the back wheels Argentina and Venezuela. Those are your four core markets.” According to Bombardier, those four countries account for more than 80 percent of the regional fleet.
“Right now we have a market that has been spinning for the longest time mostly on one wheel, which is Mexico. Brazil was kind of dead for the last three years. Venezuela, we all know what the situation is unfortunately for that country, and Argentina was in a recession for the longest time,” Leroy told AIN. “What we are seeing recently is that Brazil is coming back, Mexico is steady, so we’ve got some traction, my car is moving. Although my Venezuela at the back is kind of dragging a little bit, Argentina has proven to be a resilient market and is starting, with the new government, to be a little bit more receptive to buying business aircraft.” Central America, which Leroy said was not as affected by the global downturn as other parts of the region, is also showing renewed interest in business aviation. “Costa Rica and Guatemala are doing extremely well, and they’ve got growth in the region that is just slightly above the others and that may just make the difference,” noted Leroy.
For the past several years, Bombardier has seen a preference in the region for its larger offerings, according to Leroy. “Our Challenger 350s and 650s are doing extremely well, and as you go down south towards Chile, Argentina and Brazil, there is a preference for Global 6000s and Global 5000s for obvious reasons, as those are the only aircraft that allow you to do nonstop flights to Europe from that far region of the continent,” he said. From São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, the Global 6000 has the range to fly nonstop to destinations such as Lisbon, Madrid and London. Here at Congonhas, the company is displaying the long-range, large-cabin Global 6000 along with its popular super-midsize Challenger 350, which can cover all of South America from Guarulhos, even under the worst operating conditions.
Yet for those customers whose missions don’t require transoceanic flights or even trips from country to country, Bombardier certainly has shorter range options in its line as well. “For instance, the Brazilians like the Learjet as long as they can connect within the region of Brazil,” Leroy noted. “It’s obviously not an aircraft to cross the ocean, and go to Europe, but if you stay within the boundaries of our country, it’s a very neat aircraft and serves the customers well.”
In its forecast, over the next decade, Bombardier predicts a slight preference for light jets in the region, which the jet maker believes will see an average economic growth of 2.6 percent over the next 10 years. Yet, despite that prediction, the company this year has not yet seen the same level of interest for its light jets as it has in the previous years, according to Leroy. He believes that customers may currently be shifting their interest to larger aircraft such as the Challenger 350.
To support its fleet, the manufacturer has six authorized service centers in Latin America, located in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Monterrey and Toluca, Mexico; and Congonhas, Campinas, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as well as a regional support office (RSO) in Toluca that is staffed with an RSO manager as well as field service staff. With one of its five wholly owned, U.S. service centers based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. along with a parts depot in Miami, they can coordinate with Bombardier’s customer response center for the AOG, parts or support needs of Latin American customers. “We are committed to the region, obviously, and we believe this market will develop for us; and that we have proper products that are well adapted to the region,” Leroy concluded.