The European business aviation market demonstrated its increasing strength during last week´s European Business Aviation Convention and Exposition (EBACE), with several major business jet makers announcing orders from European customers that amounted to billions of dollars. EBACE further marked a number of other international orders from growing regions such as the Middle East and Asia.
The orders were announced during the European Business Aviation Association´s and National Business Aviation Association´s largest yet EBACE, held in Geneva, Switzerland, with attendance jumping to 13,692, 21.5 percent over last year´s participation. "The fact that EBACE keeps growing every year is a good sign that business aviation is delivering value and contributing to business and economic development worldwide," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
The slate of orders is also further evidence of the shift of business to the international market, which is expected to account for about half of all new aircraft deliveries over the next five years (BA, Sept. 24/130). The North American market traditionally has accounted for 75 percent or more of business jet sales.
While operators continued to get in line for the new breed of Very Light Jets, large and midsize business jets scored the largest contracts at last week´s show. New programs such as the Cessna Citation Columbus and the Bombardier Learjet 85 brought in solid orders, but many existing programs also captured attention.
Swiss-based VistaJet hopes to capitalize on the business jet market in Europe, signing a memorandum of understanding with Bombardier to buy the manufacturer´s European charter and jet-card membership program Skyjet International, and then inking a deal valued at .2 billion for up to 60 more Bombardier business jets.
VistaJet currently has a fleet of more than 30 medium and long-range jets that includes a mix of Learjet Challenger and Global Express aircraft. The firm orders and options would triple the size of the VistaJet fleet, and the carrier expects to grow to about 80,000 flight hours a year by 2012. The company believes that its revenues will jump 50 percent this year alone. VistaJet has been a member of Skyjet International´s elite network of charter providers since 2005.
"This is a strategic milestone for VistaJet, heralding in a new era in our business as we expand our operations worldwide," said VistaJet CEO Bing Chen. "As the demand for VistaJet offerings continues to increase, we are confident that our relationship with Bombardier will continue to produce exceptional results for our business."
Bombardier also sold six more of its new Learjet 85s to ExecuJet. ExecuJet, a Zurich, Switzerland-based operator that has operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia, will add the new Learjet 85 aircraft to its existing fleet of 29 Bombardier business jets. Bombardier valued the order at $ 103 million.
Bombardier announced the order last week as it unveiled details about the company´s newest aircraft program, including the decision to equip the aircraft with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307B engines and the Rockwell Collins new Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. Bombardier launched the all-composite, midsize aircraft in October. Bombardier also sold two of its long-range Global Express XRS jets to Zurich, Switzerland-based Comlux Aviation.
NetJets Europe is adding 20 more Dassault Falcon 2000LXs to its fleet. The newest contract is valued at $ 720 million and comes in addition to 10 Falcon 2000LXs already on order. Dassault said the combined orders are worth more than $ 1 billion.
"NetJets Europe has introduced thousands of businessmen and women to the benefits of flying privately and we are pleased to see such strong demand for Dassault aircraft by their customers," said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon, who also said NetJets Europe will have added more than 60 new Falcons over an eight-year period. Dassault launched the Falcon 2000LX at the 2007 EBACE. The aircraft is based on the 2000EX EASy, but has a 4,000-nautical mile range at Mach .80.
Austrian carrier Jetalliance placed orders for a mix of 24 Cessna Citations valued at $ 230 million, bringing the total number of Citations ordered this year to 50. Those contracts include four orders for Cessna´s new Citation Columbus aircraft. The other 2008 orders included four Citation Mustangs, seven Citation CJ2+s, 11 Citation CJ3s, three Citation CJ4s, 10 Citation XLS+s, seven Citation Sovereigns and four Citation Xs. Deliveries of the orders are scheduled to begin in 2010.
Jetalliance also plans to add three Airbus aircraft to its growing fleet, including an ACJ and two A318 Elites in a deal valued at 5 million. But Airbus´s largest order announced during EBACE came from Middle Eastern customer MAZ Aviation for six A350XWB Prestiges, valued at .5 billion. The order launches the A350-800 into the VIP market - one of the Prestiges will be the A350-800 and the other five will be A350-900 variants. MAZ plans to take delivery of the aircraft beginning in 2015 and sell them to private customers.
Embraer also detailed a number of orders from Middle Eastern customers. ASAIG Aviation, a Kuwait charter, ordered one Phenom 100 and one Phenom 300. Embraer also received letters of intent for three of Embraer´s newest aircraft, the Legacy 450 and 500, formerly dubbed the MLJ (Mid-Light Jet) and MSJ (Midsize Jet). Other Middle Eastern orders came from S.S. Lootah Group of Dubai for one Legacy 600 and the Burgan Company of Kuwait for a Legacy 600.
Embraer received several orders from European operators, including Slovenian carrier Linxair for a second Legacy 600 executive jet, Finnish Aviation Academy for a pair of Phenom 100s and VLJ Consultancy Limited of the United Kingdom for a Phenom 100. The Brazilian plane-maker further announced an order from a U.S. operator, Executive AirShare of Kansas City, Mo. for four Phenom 300 aircraft and options for four more.
Hawker Beechcraft received an order from BJETS, a new fractional ownership and block charter company based in India, for 10 Hawker 4000 super-midsize business jets. The contract included options for up to five more, bringing the agreement´s total value to more than 0 million. BJETS previously had ordered 11 Hawker 900XP and nine 850XP business jets for the company´s fractional operations in India and Southeast Asia. BJETS operates from bases in Mumbai, India and Singapore with a flight operations center in Hyderabad, India.