Boeing Updates BBJ/VIP Programs

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This week at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, Boeing updated the industry on sales of its 737-based Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and VIP-configured airliners. So far this year, the company says it has seven new orders, worth $478.5 million at list prices, bringing total program sales to 135 jets. That breaks down to 107 BBJs, 15 BBJ 2s, three BBJ 3s, four 747-8 VIPs and six 787 VIPs. The seven new orders are for six BBJs and one 787-8 VIP jet, the latter for Hong Kong real estate tycoon Joseph Lau. The 787 VIP jet is based on the company's latest and most modern airliner platform, Dreamliner. "After winning 23 orders for our luxury jets last year, we continue to see incredible demand. Boeing Business Jets could be poised for another phenomenal year," said Steven Hill, president of Boeing Business Jets. As we've noted, Boeing normally doesn't sell and tell who its BBJ/VIP customers are but does allow that private individuals constitute the majority of the Boeing Business Jets customer base at 44 percent, followed closely by government heads of state at 36 percent. The remaining customer segments are divided evenly between corporate and charter operators. Boeing launched the BBJ program in 1996 and has delivered 104 BBJs, with 90 completed and in service, leaving 14 in some stage of completion. Late last year, Boeing Business Jets launched VIP versions of the new commercial jetliners, the 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8 Intercontinental. Nearly 300 Boeing airplanes are in service in the VIP and business jet market.

At EBACE, Boeing provided additional details of its 747-8 VIP and 787 VIP programs, clearly touting the two models' features and advantages over comparable models from Airbus. For example, Boeing said 747-8 VIP "is the only large airplane in its class that fits today’s airport infrastructure, giving its owners the flexibility to fly to more destinations." The company also pointed out the airplane's so-called "SkyLoft area" -- also known as the crew rest area in late-model, line-configured 747s -- above the main cabin between the upper deck and tail of the 747-8 VIP. Boeing says this space potentially provides 881 square feet of cabin area for personal suites, private offices and recreational spaces. Meanwhile, the $153 million (today’s list price) 787-8 VIP offers 2,404 square feet of cabin space. The first commercial 787 Dreamliner is scheduled to roll out of the company's Everett, Wash., factory on July 8.