The global pandemic has transformed the reputation of business jets, according to Dassault Aviation. “Some time ago, some people thought it was taboo to use business jets but now we are seeing that changing,” Carlos Brana, executive vice president commercial aircraft, told Corporate Jet Investor at the EBACE business aviation event in Geneva on Sunday (May 22nd).
“Concept buyers are finding that business aviation is delivering immense value to their businesses and personal lives,” said Brana. New entrants to business aviation – whether buyers or users of charter or fractional programmes – valued the convenience, comfort, Covid security and great flexibility, with the ability to perform several flights in one day. “It’s extremely difficult to go back to commercial airliners once people have flown privately,” Brana said.
Éric Trappier, chairman and CEO Dassault Aviation, went on to tell CJI: “During Covid quite a number of new customers joined the business aviation community because it is the only way to travel.” Not only had airlines’ schedules reduced significantly, making private jet travel the only practical means of convenient transportation on some journeys, but new and existing clients valued the greater security. “Clients want to avoid the Covid plane and don’t want to be at airports with lots of people,” said Trappier. “They increasingly want to travel and to meet customers, partners, suppliers and contractors. So, I’m quite optimistic about the future of business aviation.”
Business aircraft had also boosted the sector’s reputation by delivering vaccines and, at the height of the Covid crisis, transporting caregivers and medical supplies, such as protective masks.
Trappier said the company and industry were finally back to near normal situation. “At least close enough to normal to say we are back again on the right track, thanks to the incredible adaptability and resilience of our industry.”
Dassault confirmed 51 Falcon sales last year compared with 15 in the previous year. The Falcon 10X is now in production, with entry into service scheduled for 2025. Trappier also confirmed the first Falcon 6X (pictured top) deliveries will be in mid-2023, instead of the end of this year as originally planned, due to supply chain challenges caused by Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine.
“I’d like to stress that the Covid epidemic is still active – fortunately not at the crisis levels we knew before, but strong enough to disrupt business,” said the CEO. “In particular, the fast recovery with limited resources of the global economy is creating unprecedented constraints on the supply chain, not only in our industry but across the entire manufacturing sector.”
The war in Ukraine is also disrupting production and the supply chains on which they depend. In addition to sparking soaring energy prices, commodity shortages and forcing Dassault to find alternative sources of supply for some key products. Both Covid and the conflict in UKraine were fueling inflation, which is driving up Dassault’s costs and, therefore, its prices.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 6X made its show debut at this year’s EBACE. Dassault Aviation’s stand at the event also featured a simulation of its Falcon 10X.