Airbus sees buoyant Middle East market for ACJ TwoTwenty

The first ACJ TwoTwenty in production.
Credit: Airbus

DUBAI—With 200 aircraft in service around the world, including 60 in Middle East and North Africa region, Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) is optimistic that the newly available A220-100-based ACJ TwoTwenty and A350-900/1000-based ACJ350 will boost growth at both ends of the private jet spectrum.

Launched in 2020, the ACJ TwoTwenty represents more than “just another ACJ—it’s a strong commitment in the middle of a crisis from the management of the Airbus company to business aviation,” said Benoit Defforge, Airbus Corporate Jets CEO, at Dubai Airshow. With orders for six ACJ TwoTwenty aircraft, plus a memorandum of understanding for a seventh, the company says the program is off to a good start.

Described as a “game changer” by Chadi Saade, ACJ vice-president of commercial, the ACJ TwoTwenty is “the first-ever Airbus bizjet—as opposed to a bizliner. It is the only aircraft today that matches the main purchase criteria for a new large cabin jet in terms of budget, space and range without any compromises.”

In terms of range, Saade said “99% of worldwide flights are within range of the TwoTwenty—so with a 12-hour range capability from Dubai you can reach all Asia, all of Europe, all Africa and even reach part of Australia.” Airliner-based design specifications mean operating costs are more than 30% lower than comparable large-sized cabin aircraft while cabin area is 73 m² compared to 34.1 m² for a Bombardier Global 7500 or 43.2 m² for a Gulfstream G700.

The first fuselage arrived at the Airbus final assembly line in Montreal in May and will be delivered “a couple of months from now” to the Comlux completion center in Indianapolis, Saade said. Comlux has bought the first two aircraft for its charter fleet and is expected to complete the first 15 aircraft. Entry into service is due in the first quarter of 2023.

In the large aircraft arena, Airbus has taken orders for three government-operated ACJ350s plus a fourth for an undisclosed customer. The company delivered two ACJ350s in 2021 and says derivatives based on both the A350-900 and -1000 are on offer. The model is expected to attract interest from governments in the Middle East and North Africa region which is likely to experience an uptick in demand, according to Defforge. “Of the 60 ACJ aircraft in this area the average age is 15 years—which is super good news for us because we will have a lot of renewal—not only in the single aisles but we also anticipate a fleet of governmental aircraft,” Defforge said.

Overall the Airbus ACJ business “did very well in 2020 despite the crisis and the very difficult time we have had to face,” he added. “We delivered six aircraft and placed 12 new orders—which is quite an amazing score and was the result of work done before the pandemic. Looking at 2021, we are continuing at the same level.” To date, Airbus has taken orders for 16 ACJs for the year and expects to deliver 16 by the end of 2021.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.