Hit by slumping aircraft sales and uncertain recovery in the aerospace market, private jet makers are pushing ultra-large, luxury models of their business jets to attract rich investors in the Gulf Arab region.
Leading manufacturers such as Canada’s Bombardier , Brazil’s Embraer and Europe’s Airbus hope buyers in the world’s largest oil producing region — long comfortable with high-end business travel — will lead a rebound.
“When you are selling to a market that accepts the use of such airplane, you are off to a head start,” Bob Horner, senior vice president of sales at Bombardier Business Aircraft, said on the sidelines of the Middle East business aviation show on Wednesday, Reuters Reports.
“The use of such business aircrafts is very well understood in this region.”
In contrast to other regions, Middle East executives typically opt for private jets over chartered aircraft firms. That has prompted manufacturers to play to a preference for jets with large cabin spaces and swanky interiors.
Among jets on display at the aviation show in Dubai were luxury planes with lavish gold-plated interiors. Some firms were also hoping to capitalize on Qatar hosting soccer’s World Cup in 2022, with special offers to transport elite customers to the Gulf Arab state for the tournament.
Airbus, the world’s largest aircraft maker, said half of its corporate jets this year were delivered to customers in Gulf countries.
The only privately owned Airbus A380 superjumbo belongs to Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Airbus said it has received enquiries from private customers interested in the A380 superjumbo but did not specify from which region.
Meanwhile, Embraer said it delivered a new Embraer 170 jet to Saudi Aramco, a company owned by the Saudi Arabian government, and was in talks on more deals with the firm.
Claudio Galdo Camelier, an Embraer executive, said nearly 60 percent of its jet deliveries in the Middle East will be in the ultra-large range.
“Customers are showing interest in some airplanes … we have had some orders in the region but it’s still far from where it was in the past and it would take some time to get there,” he said. “In the next 10 years, approximately 300 private jets will be delivered to the Middle East.” The business jet market had a hard landing in 2009 as demand tumbled after five years of annual delivery increases. Companies cut down on spending and tighter credit made purchases difficult.
“I believe the market is improving but we are still far from where it was in 2007 and early 2008,” Embraer’s Camelier said.