There was some early head-scratching over the absence of supersonic business jet developer Aerion among exhibitors at EBACE. Part of the answer came with the appearance of a large AS2 model front and center at the Sparfell Aviation Group booth (V71). Geneva International Airport-based Sparfell is an official sales representative for Aerion, and Christian Hatje, CEO of the group’s sales and acquisitions unit, had some more answers.
“With the recent cooperation agreement with Boeing,” he told AIN, “there has been a focus on the internal reconstruction [of Aerion]. In talking with the Aerion marketing team, they asked if we could help represent them [at EBACE]. Since we are right next door we said, ‘Why not?’ So, we have a large AS2 model on our stand.”
Hatje said Sparfell & Partners, the corporate name for the business unit of Sparfell Group, focuses on the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) region, though the agreement with Aerion is not subject to regions or other limitations, he said. “Being in Geneva, we have the advantage of being a lift ride away for aircraft owners flying in on their aircraft to talk with us about their next aircraft.”
He said there are about a dozen of his top clients who would be a good fit for the AS2. “We have been in really serious talks with three,” he said. Asked to provide further details, however, he made the universal gesture for “lips sealed.” “They would not be happy if I told any more,” he said.
While acknowledging that there is, indeed, interest among his Middle East clients, Hatje said, “But there is strong interest in Europe. I was surprised, but transatlantic is perfect for this airplane. If you have a business in Europe with ties in the U.S., it makes super sense. The market isn’t always where you might think at first.”
Asked if there has been any change in Sparfell’s relationship with Aerion as a result of the Boeing involvement, Hatje didn’t hesitate: “No. The marketing and sales remain independent.”
Hartje further revealed that Sparfell is making significant progress in the Airbus A380 head-of-state outreach. With the recent news on the phasing out of the super-jumbo, prospects for a VVIP A380 have gotten a boost. Hatje said his company has the line on ex-Singapore Airlines A380s, and in cooperation with Wench Design in London and Jet Aviation Basel, could finally bring the first VVIP A380 project to reality.
"The idea is to create a hybrid VVIP aircraft," he told AIN. "Do you know how many people typically travel with a head of state? It's more than 200. Sometimes it takes three separate aircraft to carry the whole entourage. With the A380, the upper deck would be the VVIP suite, and the lower levels would remain in first, business or economy class for the rest of the entourage."