Dassault sees tough year for business aviation

3rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The head of French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation said on Monday he expected a tough year ahead for the business aviation market, with jetmakers still waiting for demand to recover.

"This year remains difficult. Quarter one is a disappointment," chief executive Charles Edelstenne told reporters a day before EBACE, an annual business aviation fair, opens in Geneva.

"It's very difficult to forecast anything. The market has not restarted yet. Nobody knows how long the crisis would last. We are waiting for a restart," he added.

World deliveries of business jets plunged 24.3 percent between 2008 and 2009, after unprecedented growth in the five years earlier, according to estimates from US consultancy Teal Group.

Edelstenne said that Dassault, which makes Falcon business jets targeting the luxury sector, is holding up well in the crisis.

However, it is "on a plateau" while the resale market is showing signs of recovery.

The second-hand market regarded as a key indicator for the industry, with a recovery in this sector often preceding an overall revival of corporate aviation.

Edelstenne reiterated the group's forecasts of record Falcon deliveries in 2010, with some 80 jets to be delivered compared to 77 a year ago.

He added that the group was expecting growth in orders this year, despite the cancellation of four Falcons in the first quarter.

The group's net profit fell 15.5 percent in 2009 to 315 million euros as the global economic crisis dampened demand.

Dassault holds market share of between 40 and 45 percent of the luxury market.

Chairman of US group Gulfstream Joe Lombardo said in a separate press briefing that the industry was making a slow recovery.

Like Edelstenne, Lombardo underlined that the market for high-end jets was performing well despite the crisis.

"The industry is recovering albeit slowly. Gulfstream has the right products to benefit from the renewed growth," he added.

Lombardo said that its development of a new business jet called the G650 was "on track."

The jet is expected to be able to transport up to eight passengers non-stop over long distances such as Dubai-New York or London-Buenos Aires.

"The entry in service is expected in 2012," said Lombardo.

© 2010 AFP

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