(Bloomberg) — Airbus SE is betting that its corporate-jet division won’t be as hard hit by the pandemic as commercial flights as the planemaker unveiled a business version of its A220 model.
The aircraft will have three times more cabin space and cost about a third less to run than competing models, said Airbus, which took over the development of the plane from Bombardier Inc. in February. The model is based on the A220-100 and will be able to fly as far as 10,500 km, enough to connect London to Los Angeles.
The global spread of the coronavirus has prompted gloomy predictions about the future of business travel, with demand likely to be hurt as companies get used to virtual meetings. Still, concerns about rising infection rates make private jets a more attractive proposition for those who do need to travel and can afford it.
Airbus announced six orders for the new model on Tuesday, with two coming from Swiss aviation firm Comlux, which helped design the interior of the aircraft. The other four orders were from undisclosed customers.
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The European group already has corporate models based on its A320-family, A330 and A350 aircraft.
“Based on its compelling market appeal, we see promising demand for this aircraft in the growing business-jet market,” Benoit Defforge, the president of Airbus Corporate Jets, said in a statement.
Airbus’ core business of manufacturing commercial aircraft has been hard-hit by the pandemic. The company plans to cut 15,000 jobs and doesn’t see a rebound in global air-traffic levels until 2023 or even 2025.
(Updates first orders in fourth paragraph.)
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