Spring/Summer 2018

Private Aviation & Premium Travel
Robust Growth for BBJ

Boeing Business Jets will display the BBJ YG-135, one of the 737-NG based BBJs with a well-appointed interior at the EBACE2018

Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), which brings the best of commercial aviation into the realm of private air travel, will be a major participant at this year’s EBACE.

BBJ offers a wide range of products that can be uniquely customised for the private, business or governmental sectors.

This year, the company will display BBJ YG-135, one of the 737-NG based BBJs with a well-appointed interior that shows off the flexibility and interior comfort the BBJ product line offers, says Capt Alex Fecteau, Director of Marketing, in an interview with Arabian Knight.

“From full-size beds to meeting spaces, lounge areas, and galleys, this BBJ also sports its own integrated airstairs. Along with the easy access cargo bays that require no ground equipment, this airplane can fly in and out of most airports and does so in unparalleled comfort. No other business jet in the segment offers the combination of space and range that you’ll be able to view in our BBJ at EBACE this year,” he says.

Commenting on the event, he says: “EBACE is a very important show for us, and we meet with more potential customers there than any other show. North America, Europe, and the Middle East are three of our largest markets, and all regions send robust representation to EBACE. We also have a number of partners and completion centres in Europe, and EBACE provides excellent opportunities to meet with one another, and prospective customers in an aviation-centric environment where products and offerings can be discussed face-to-face.”

Capt Fecteau says the business jet market continues to grow at a robust pace, and BBJ believes that its newest offerings in the BBJ MAX product line are particularly suited to where the market is maturing to.

“With large business jet cabins increasing in number, and cabin size within that segment growing ever larger, the BBJ MAX line resides exactly where many jet owners are hoping to grow,” he continues.

In the larger business jet segment, Boeing is the most trusted head of state airplane provider, catering to over 70 per cent of that market, Capt Fecteau adds.

Asked what are the key challenges facing the market, he says: “They include continuing to demonstrate to prospective customers that our BBJ MAX really does cost the same to operate as business jets with cabins just one-half to one-third of its size. We don’t believe the larger market fully appreciates the enormous added benefits a BBJ MAX can provide at an extraordinarily competitive price.

“There are also various challenges with recent trade discussions that may impact tariffs, political uncertainty in certain regions, and concerns about appearances of extravagance in certain locations, even though most BBJs are used strictly as business efficiency tools. However, most of these issues are always present to some degree,” he avers.

This year has been a good one for BBJ and it plans to announce orders-to-date at the EBACE press conference. “Our expectations for the year are high, and we have great interest in our BBJ MAX product line, which we’ve essentially sold out until 2022. If customers want a MAX BBJ, the time to get in line is now.”

Speaking on further on the BBJ MAX, he says the programme is on track. “The MAX 7 flight test is on schedule; we’ve delivered over 120 commercial MAX airplanes and our first BBJ MAX 8 flew off in April. The MAX BBJ brings an unparalleled combination of comfort and range to the skies, far more range than our similar-sized competitors, and more space and comfort than any business jet in the segment that flies 7,000 miles.”

“The BBJ MAX 8 is the fastest seller so far but was also the first MAX to be sold. We anticipate that the BBJ MAX 7 with its 7,000-mile range will overtake the BBJ MAX 8 as the airplane is released and put into operation.”

The BBJ MAX 9 will replace the current BBJ 3, which was launched as an aircraft for the Middle East. In fact, the entire BBJ 3 fleet resides in the Middle East region. With the same size cabin but over 1,000 nmi more range, the BBJ MAX 9 is expected to sell very well in the Middle East.

“Last year we did sell 12 head of state airplanes whereas our competitor sold zero. Overall, we sold 16 BBJs of all sizes in 2017 compared to one for our similarly sized competitor.

Highlighting the unique proposition that BBJ brings to the table, he said this includes the size, range and comfort advantage that no other business jet offers, all for the same operating costs as an airplane with a fraction of the cabin space. “When it comes to maximising business efficiency, travelling with an executive team, no other airplane in the segment offers such opportunity to increase productivity on domestic or long-haul travel,” he continues.

The Middle East comprises about a quarter of BBJ’s overall market, he says. “It is very important to us, and our Middle East customers are very loyal. We provide them with the finest, most reliable business jets in the world and they repay us with loyalty and more orders. Middle East customers tend to buy larger airplanes and we’re grateful they’ve nearly always come to Boeing. This market continues to grow at a rate similar to rates in other regions, which is strong.”

So what do customers look for in a business jet? “Our customers look for size, space, comfort, reliability and support. They want to get where they want, when they want, in the manner they want, and we deliver.

“Aviation Week’s 2015 survey rated Boeing services more than twice as high as the second-placed manufacturer’s service, and business jet customers appreciate that when investing so much in their airplanes. Our size, customisable interiors, extraordinary efficiency, and reliability that is far above any other competitor is what our customers demand and what we deliver. Other manufacturers may provide good spare airplanes on demand, but a Boeing Business Jet virtually never requires a spare. Our customers want to travel in the airplane they bought, not a substitute, so that they can have the comforts they bought, in the configuration, they desire when travelling,” adds Capt Fecteau.

Asked about customisation and the unique demands from customers, he says: “There is a broad variety of unique interiors. Interiors are completed by one of our 15 partner completion centres around the world. If it can be put on an airplane, it will be put on a Boeing, from floor lamps, retracting large-screen televisions, to elevators installed to hoist passengers into the 747 from the tarmac; the requests and deliveries sometimes try the imagination. We normally support with engineering necessary to assist installation, while our completion centres do most of the hands-on work.

Have they had to say ‘no’ to any request? “We don’t often reject requests, but on the other hand, also won’t do anything that compromises safety or the integrity of our airplanes,” Capt Fecteau confides.

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