At least three VIP completions centers are making a pre-emptive strike against overcapacity in the narrowbody market by going down market with cheaper, simpler interiors.
Corporate Jet Center, and now are all offering VIP interiors for BBJ and Airbus ACJ single-aisle luxury jets that can be assembled from pre-designed, industrialized modules instead of having every item in a cabin custom-built. The advantages are quicker, simpler interiors that can shave several millions of dollars from the usual $20-million-or-so price tag for an opulent cabin.
The goal: to win more business and keep production lines busy as competition heats up for the fewer single-aisle luxury jets being sold.
But Comlux boss Richard Gaona questions the concept. His custom-built Comlux America completions center in Indianapolis hasn’t taken the modular approach, and instead offers top-end bespoke cabin completions for those with the wherewithal to pay for them.
“Every customer wants his own design,” says Gaona. “If you’re spending $90 million on the airplane you want something special. You want partitions, a tailored cabin and customized innovation.
“When I was in charge of sales for Airbus Corporate Jets I proposed the modular concept and I didn’t sell any.”
Of course, those offering the industrialized approach still cater to the VVIP-est of the VIPs with top-end interiors, it’s just that they’ve broadened their market appeal. Comlux, whose completion shop is full for the next 18 months, has taken a different approach to looming overcapacity in the market by expanding into completion of widebody aircraft. It is negotiating on the first – on two, in fact – of which the first is a 10 to 12-year-old airliner to be converted into a VVIP jet.
The last “modular” VIP cabin completion program was theElite, of which Airbus and Technik sold around 20. But none have sold for the last couple of years.
It will be interesting, says Gaona, to see if the market buys into the latest modular proposals.