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The Covid-19 pandemic is making business aviation a success

Placed on the tarmac of Geneva airport, on the business aviation side, the private jets look like scale models next to the Airbus A319 which has just landed on Saturday May 21. When one, the ACJ319, for Airbus Corporate Jets, is an airliner dressed in a business version, high on legs and with a large cabin, the jets of the competition offer much narrower and more streamlined cabins.

The European Business Aviation Convention (Ebace), which is taking place from May 23 to 25 in the Swiss city, is an opportunity for Airbus to present its A220 ACJ, the latest to enter its fleet. This is the first meeting in the sector after two blank years due to the pandemic. And Airbus also wants to benefit from the incredible “boom” of the sector during the crisis, as indicated by Simon Rochefort, vice-president responsible for sales of VistaJet, one of the world leaders in business aviation.

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While regular companies have been at or near a standstill, business jets have taken off again thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Between 2020 and 2021, the number of customers has grown by 50%”, precise Simon Rochefort. In 2021, private jet flights grew by 22% compared to 2019, pointed out the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). All the manufacturers in the sector, from Dassault to the American Gulfstream via the Canadian Bombardier, saw their sales soar in 2021. Following the example of the Quebec aircraft manufacturer, whose vice-president, Michel Ouellette, welcomes yet to have “made the strategic decision to refocus Bombardier on business aviation”. Sales “historical”, according to him. In 2021, the aircraft manufacturer delivered one hundred and twenty aircraft and plans to do even better in 2022.

King size bed and shower cubicle

At Dassault too, we rub our hands as business is good, with sixty-one devices delivered last year against only fifteen in 2020. The only downside, according to CEO Eric Trappier, “small delays” for problems of “components” which have already postponed the entry into service, now scheduled for mid-2023, of the all-new Falcon 6X by six months. A delay no doubt also linked to the long social conflict which pitted the management of the group against the production employees, who were demanding wage increases.

The most expensive private jet, the Bombardier Global 7500, is billed around 75 million euros

In Geneva, the attraction of the show is the brand new Airbus. “A game changer! » (“an aircraft that changes the game”), boasts Benoît Defforge, president of Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), the business division of the European aircraft manufacturer. And for good reason, with its A220, Airbus is leaving the very narrow segment of airliners converted into business for the much broader segment of business jets. When the first concerns only four hundred aircraft, the second encompasses more than two thousand two hundred aircraft. “It’s five times more », rejoices Mr. Defforge. And maybe ” ten times more ” outbids its competitor Alexis Fecteau, sales director of Boeing Business Jets. It must be said that, until the arrival of the A220, Airbus could not compete with the productions of Gulfstream, Dassault or Bombardier. “It’s the first time we can attack them. Previously we were twenty to twenty-five million euros above “, reports the boss of ACJ.

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