VistaJet, the Swiss-based executive jet operator, yesterday placed one of the largest orders in business aviation history with the Canadian planemaker Bombardier.
The deal, worth US$7.8 billion (Dh28.65bn) at list prices, is for 142 Bombardier Global twin jets, with firm orders for 56 aircraft, and options for 86. Deliveries are set to begin in 2014. The order is a key part of VistaJet's expansion plans to make business aviation more accessible to the emerging markets.
"This order is the most significant milestone for VistaJet and is a testimony to our successful strategy that focuses on global coverage," said Thomas Flohr, the company's founder and chairman. "Our customers need to fly point-to-point across the globe, and in many instances at short notice. Whether it's a direct flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai, from London to Luanda or from Kinshasa to Ulan Bator, we are seamlessly connecting our customers to every corner of the world."
Business-jet orders are reviving after a four-year slump, with the US-based NetJets placing a $7.3bn Bombardier Challenger order in June.
The VistaJet order is impressive, said Paul Sheridan, the head of Asian consulting at the aviation-industry advisory firm Ascend Worldwide. "The Global-family planes have large cabins for business aircraft, making them well suited to Chinese demand, as well as other prospective growth markets."
VistaJet will carry 25,000 passengers on 10,000 single international flights this year on its existing fleet of 50 aircraft and yesterday's announcement reflects the company's strategic decision to fast-track the growth of the fleet, focusing on wide-cabin, long-range aircraft to provide non-stop, point-to-point global coverage.
The new aircraft will directly service markets in Russia, China, across the Middle East and all of Africa, as well as serving the east and west coasts of the United States for intercontinental travel.
The strategy is designed to establish VistaJet as market leader flying in to, and out of, the hardest-to-reach destinations around the world.
"Earlier in the year we announced landmark agreements with partners in both China and Russia and, since then, the level of demand we have seen in growth markets around the globe has been unprecedented," added Mr Flohr.
"Such customer success allows us to place this historic order and will enable us to base even more brand-new aircraft in these dynamic growth markets."
The order includes four different variants of Bombardier's Global series, capable of cruising speeds of up to Mach 0.9 [times the speed of sound] and carrying 10 passengers up to 13,520 kilometres, equal to connecting cities such as London and Singapore, or Beijing and Washington non-stop.
Among the aircraft on order is the Global 8000, the world's longest-range business jet capable of flying 14,631km non-stop.
"This is a historic order for Bombardier," said Steve Ridolfi, the president of Bombardier Business Aircraft. "It goes without saying that we are thrilled VistaJet has again chosen to grow their fleet with the industry-leading Global family."