Sky’s no limit

Cor­po­rates in­vest­ing in their own air­craft

Finweek English Edition - - Business strategy entrepreneur - SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA

CANA­DIAN AIR­CRAFT man­u­fac­turer Bom­bardier Aero­space and busi­ness air­craft so­lu­tions provider Ex­e­cuJet last week launched the latest in the Bom­bardier Chal­lenger 600 busi­ness jet se­ries. The Bom­bardier Chal­lenger 605, which touched down for the first time in Africa at Jo­han­nes­burg’s Lanse­ria In­ter­na­tional Air­port, fea­tures a new avion­ics suite and a re­designed, more spa­cious in­te­rior. It suc­ceeds the Chal­lenger 604 model, of which the last air­craft en­ters pro­duc­tion in May 2007. Al­though only two months old – its maiden flight was in Jan­uary 2007 – its or­der book is al­ready full un­til 2009.

Com­ment­ing on the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of cor­po­rate avi­a­tion, Et­tore Poggi, MD for Ex­e­cuJet South Africa – said de­mand for busi­ness air­craft has been in­creas­ing ex­po­nen­tially over the last two years, par­tic­u­larly in the African con­text. Poggi says his com­pany has sold more than 90 new air­craft in the last 10 years in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. “Ba­si­cally our clients are peo­ple within sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and are typ­i­cally gov­ern­ments, dig­ni­taries, cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions, celebri­ties and wealthy in­di­vid­u­als. From a global per­spec­tive, there have been sev­eral mo­ti­va­tors for this in­crease, in­clud­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion and ac­cep­tance that busi­ness avi­a­tion is not just the do­main of se­nior ex­ec­u­tives and the rich and fa­mous.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Toronto Stock Ex­change-listed Bom­bardier, the 12-seater (plus three crew) Chal­lenger 605 op­er­ates at a max­i­mum cruis­ing speed of 470 knots (870km/h) and can be mod­i­fied to per­form other roles such as air am­bu­lance, elec­tronic sys­tems train­ing and mar­itime sur­veil­lance. It has a range of 4 045 nau­ti­cal miles (7 491km), en­abling it to reach Lon­don from Jo­han­nes­burg with one re­fu­elling break. “Its wide body of­fers cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment lead­ers a quiet and com­fort­able area to work and rest,” said Ex­e­cuJet in a state­ment. The Chal­lenger 605 show­cases a state-of-the-art Eth­er­net-based Cabin Elec­tron­ics Sys­tem as fea­tured in the Global 5000 se­ries, which pro­vides of­fice en­vi­ron­ment and en­ter­tain­ment op­tions, in­clud­ing 45,7cm bulk­head-mounted cabin mon­i­tors, LCD touch-screen pas­sen­ger con­trol units and high speed In­ter­net.

Robert Hab­janic, Bom­bardier sales di­rec­tor for Africa, said prices for the 605 would start at U$28,5m (R205m). He said his com­pany had re­ceived a num­ber of or­ders for the jet from African gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses. Bom­bardier would pro­duce about 40 Chal­lenger 605 jets a year to meet its al­ready “sub­stan­tial” or­der book, and the first African de­liv­ery (to an un­named client for com­pet­i­tive rea­sons) would be made be­fore the end of the third quar­ter of 2007.

Fin­week saw no less than 15 jets parked in the Ex­e­cuJet hangar near Lanse­ria Air­port, in­clud­ing two each owned by Bar­loworld and Mve­laphanda. Sappi and Pick ’n Pay (among oth­ers) also have their own jets wait­ing for that long trip abroad.

For R205m, nice toy to have. (Bom­bardier 1, 2 & 3): Bom­bardier Chal­lenger 605

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