Airbus sees business jet sales boost despite Ukraine war, China lockdown

Sales are now trending upwards with five corporate jet orders so far in 2022, including four for the A220 variant. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Airbus's corporate jet division is more optimistic about prospects for this year, even as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Chinese coronavirus lockdowns weigh on sales.

The European planemaker had a slow couple of years for orders for its newest business jet model during the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost all work travel curtailed. The corporate version of the A220 was launched in 2020, yet received no orders in 2021 after six commitments the previous year.

Sales are now trending upwards with five corporate jet orders so far in 2022, including four for the A220 variant, and there are opportunities in the Middle East and the United States to complete more business, global head of Airbus corporate jets Benoit Defforge said in an interview ahead of the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition.

"We had to face headwinds during the last 12 to 18 months," said Mr Defforge. "We anticipate in the Middle East a real opportunity for the coming years."

There are more than 60 Airbus corporate jets flying in the Middle East with an average age of more than 10 years, meaning the company sees an opportunity to renew an ageing fleet. The US is a more difficult market to get a foothold in, Mr Defforge said, but the rebound in the market there means there is also plenty of room for growth.

China, on the other hand, is becoming more challenging due to the difficulty of accessing the market as the country brings back sweeping virus restrictions. The company also had to stop sales efforts in Russia to comply with sanctions and has 10 per cent to 15 per cent of its fleet in the country.

The A220 corporate jet will enter into service at the beginning of next year and this is expected to bring further sales momentum, Mr Defforge said. The company is looking to make five to ten ACJ220 sales a year in the longer term.

The model is based on the A220-100 and will be able to fly as far as 10,500km, enough to connect London to Los Angeles.

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