NBAA 2013: Plenty of buyers, but not a standout show

Alasdair Whyte

Attendance at NBAA 2013 was not as high as expected, but Dassault and Wheels Up still gave the industry something to celebrate in Las Vegas.
NBAA 2013 ballon
NBAA 2013 returned to Las Vegas for the third time in 10 years.

NBAA 2013 will not be remembered as a standout show. There were not the crowds of 2007; in fact, just 275 more people – a total of 25,425 – attended the show, when compared with last year’s event in Orlando.

But, more importantly, brokers, manufacturers, engine programme companies and others all said that there were a good number of buyers, flight departments and decision-makers at the show (many brokers actually said they wished they could have brought more aircraft to the static display at Henderson Airport).

The highlight was the launch of Dassault’s Falcon 5X, a genuinely exciting new aircraft that has something for everyone. Passengers will enjoy the skylight, fresh interior and wide cabin; financiers and buyers will like the 12 year warranties; and pilots and engineers will appreciate the innovative wing and other technological developments (that have been subsidised by the OEM’s military aircraft). The $45 million aircraft is due for delivery in 2017.

Another exciting launch was Wheels Up, with Beechcraft delivering the first of up to 105 King Air 350i aircraft to Kenny Dichter’s new private aviation company. Dichter, who also created Marquis Jet, told Corporate Jet Investor that he wants to “further democratise” business aviation. This is not just hype; few companies have done as much to sell the benefits of business aviation as NetJets and Marquis Jet. With its turboprop aircraft, Wheels Up will be targeting a whole new group of customers.

Wheels Up has also agreed joint ventures with jet operators like JetSuite and VistaJet (where it is its exclusive US sales agent). JetSuite has an amazingly strong entrepreneurial team including the founders of JetBlue, Gol and Zappos, the US distribution company. But it will be really fascinating to see what happens when Dichter and Thomas Flohr join forces.

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