Being a market where the bulk of business jet sales involve pre-owned aircraft has not deterred Embraer Executive Jets from investing in Australia in the quest for new customers.
Embraer Executive Jets vice president for sales and marketing in the Middle East and Asia Pacific Claudio Camelier says Australia is a huge market for used aircraft, while sales of new aircraft have, in recent times, been small in number.
“There hasn’t been so many deliveries of new airplanes in Australia in the past few years,” Camelier told Australian Aviation in an interview on the phone from Dubai ahead of the upcoming Australian International Airshow at Avalon.
“In spite of that, it is definitely a market in which we invest and we spend a lot of time there because there are still a certain number of opportunities for sales of new airplanes.”
In addition to its efforts to secure new aircraft sales, Camelier said Embraer was still participating in the market through its pre-flown aircraft sales unit.
“Not that this is an issue for Embraer. Not at all. We do have our pre-owned, we call them pre-flown, airplane division where we sell airplanes that we have taken on trade from other customers,” Camelier said.
“For us, if it is a pre-flown or new airplane we will be dedicating exactly the same effort to the customer in terms of support after the delivery.
“The customer experience that we provide to the buyers, be it a pre-flown buyer or a new buyer, is exactly the same.”
Further, any sale of a pre-flown aircraft to a new customer had the potential to lead to a new aircraft sale some time down the track when the owner was looking to upgrade.
Embraer has six business jets based in Australia – three Phenom 100s, one Phenom 300, one Legacy 500 and one Legacy 600.
The total business jet fleet in Australia comprised about 200 aircraft, with roughly half in the light jet category.
“What we have seen over the past four, five years is an almost stable market for business jets in Australia. We haven’t seen the fleet growing very much,” Camelier said.
Australia had a strong culture of business aviation and general aviation and had a friendly environment for owners and operators of these aircraft despite much publicised challenges regarding curfews, customs and border processing and slot availability at busy times, Camelier said
“Operating a business jet in Australia is a relatively easy thing to do when compared to some other regions in the world where there are a lot of restrictions for business jet movements,” he said.
“The good thing about Australia is it is a market where users – business, high net worth individuals – they are familiar with the benefits of business aviation.
“They understand business aviation, they know how business aviation can make their travels more efficient.”
Embraer Executive Jets planned to have two aircraft on display at Avalon – the Phenom 300 and the Legacy 450.
The company delivered its first Phenom 300, which seats six passengers and has a range just under 2,000nm, to an Australian customer in January. Meanwhile, it will be first time the Legacy 450 will be seen in the Asia Pacific region.
Although the number of Embraer aircraft coming to Avalon 2017 was down compared with the four business jets the Brazil-based manufacturer brought to the 2015 event, Camelier said this had more to do with aircraft availability rather than any reflection of current market conditions.
“Bringing in the Phenom 300 and the Legacy 450, it will be very positive for us,” Camelier said.
“We are bringing in the most delivered airplane in the world in the past few years and the newest airplane in our portfolio, being able to show all the technology, all the cabin comfort features of the airplane.
“This time around unfortunately we didn’t have as many airplanes available to bring to the airshow but I do believe we will still have a very strong presence there.”
The introduction of ultra long haul business jets such as Gulfstream’s G650ER, which can operate between Los Angeles and Melbourne nonstop, have proved to be well received in Australia, given their range capabilities.
While ultra long range jets is not a market that Embraer competes in – the Brazilian manufacturer’s Lineage 1000E tops out at 4,600nm – Carmelier said the company was continually studying this particular segment.
However, he noted Embraer currently had its hands full with new aircraft programs at its commercial aircraft and military divisions.
“Embraer for sure has all the technical capabilities to develop a very good airplane in that particular market segment,” Camelier said of ultra long range aircraft. “But that’s not the focus for the company right now.”
“Our engineering teams at Embraer, they are pretty much busy with the development of the KC-390 for the military market and the E-Jets E2.
“So right now we don’t have I would say availability, resources, to develop a new airline because most of our engineering resources are focused on these new designs for commercial and defence.”
Meanwhile the focus for those working in the executive jets division was to “consolidate our presence in the market and consolidate our product line”.
Camelier said market conditions in North America, the world’s biggest market for business jets where 60 per cent of new aircraft are purchased and where two-thirds of the installed fleet is based, were good as customers and operators absorbed the impact of the change in US president.
There were also encouraging signs from China, which had suffered a significant drop in demand in recent times as the government’s anti-corruption crackdown and economic uncertainty kept potential buyers in the shadows.
Although conditions were unlikely to go back to the boom times of a few years ago, Camelier was upbeat about the prospects for Embraer in China.
“The worst is already behind us,” Camelier said of China.
“We definitely see recovery signs there and more customers asking about the possibility about acquiring new airplanes.”