Gulfstream Expands "Cautiously"

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Gulfstream says it will continue with expansion plans at its facilities despite the market downturn and PR problems in the industry. Company spokesman Robert Baugniet told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Gulfstream has been affected by the downturn and that's in turn affected the company's approach to expansion. "We're still hiring people but we're doing it carefully," Baugniet said. The company had an ambitious year in 2008, completing a new manufacturing plant and a research facility at its Savannah headquarters and launching two new models, the big G650 intercontinental jet (view video here) and the midsized G250.

There are plans for more hangars at Gulfstream facilities and more staffing will be required. Baugniet acknowledged that the inventory of used business jets has gone up dramatically in recent months and it's a situation that hasn't yet resolved itself. "Sellers are still looking for high prices. Buyers are looking for low prices, so until that rationalizes you're going to have a lot of inventory in the marketplace," Baugniet told the AJC. Analyst Richard Aboulafia says Gulfstream is well-positioned to capitalize on the inevitable uptick in the market with the new models, particularly the 650. "They're wisely getting that going in preparation for the next upturn," Aboulafia said. "If you accept that wealth generation will return, the need for transport will return, globalization will return."