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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

Airbus in discussions with Middle East customers for ACJ350 corporate jet orders 

France-based manufacturer expects a decision about the potential orders by next year

The Airbus A330 assembly line at Airbus headquarters in France. The company says interest is growing in the Middle East. Reuters
The Airbus A330 assembly line at Airbus headquarters in France. The company says interest is growing in the Middle East. Reuters

Airbus is in negotiations with governments and private customers from the Middle East, its largest market globally for corporate jets, for potential orders of its ACJ350 business jets.

The European plane maker expects to receive a decision about the potential orders for its widebody corporate jet by next year, Benoit Defforge, president of Airbus Corporate Jets, told The National on Sunday.

"We have several discussions ongoing in the time being, both on the private side and the government side for the Middle East," Mr Defforge said in Dubai. “It’s new technology compared to the [Boeing] 777, which is an old-fashioned aircraft, so the A350 is the most modern twin-aisle aircraft in the market and will be a big success in the Airbus Corporate Jets side.”

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The Middle East is home to about 60 of the 190 Airbus corporate jets currently in service worldwide. These 60 jets comprise about 40 ACJ320 family aircraft and around 20 widebodies. The region, home to the world's largest commercial widebody fleet operated by Dubai-based Emirates, is a key market for Airbus ACJ350s and ACJ330neos widebody corporate jets.

The cycle of demand for corporate jets is currently in an "intermediate" stage but Airbus is "positive" in its outlook for this segment next year, Mr Defforge said.

A growing number of ultra-wealthy individuals and a rise in the number of private and government entities requiring private jets for business trips is putting a shine on the outlook, he said, cautioning that this also depends on external factors such as geopolitics or the health of the global economy.

Rising trade tensions are hurting the global economy while implemented and threatened trade tariffs could wipe out a third of global gross domestic product by 2020, the IMF warned in December.

Airbus expects to deliver seven corporate jets to customers next year compared to three planes in 2018, Mr Defforge said, declining to reveal the types of customers or geographies.

Mr Defforge was speaking in Dubai ahead of the Middle East business aviation show held in the emirate December 10 to 12.

Updated: December 9, 2018 07:02 PM

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