Aviation Industry Seeing Signs Of Improvement Ahead

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Despite more than 7,600 announced layoffs at Wichita’s large plane makers, the majority of which out of Cessna alone, Cessna is seeing a ray of hope in these dark and gloomy times.

Cessna handed over the keys to two new “Citation XLS Plus” business jets to Europe’s Lufthansa Air Carrier Monday.

The aircraft will operate in the Lufthansa Private Jet Fleet, operated by their Swiss Air subsidiary, and will provide customers the chance to fly to a thousand or so European destinations not served by major airlines.

“Taking delivery of aircraft in this time is really very special,” said Swiss Private Aviation CEO Claudio Peer.

Generally, in this time of economic decline, fewer companies are expanding.

"And especially in this time in the very special and challenging environment, it's very important to have a very good and reliable aircraft to satisfy the customer's needs,” said Peer.

Such customer deliveries are why some at Cessna see an end coming to the aviation downturn.

“I think we’re close to the bottom of the cycle. We are seeing consolidation in our order book. The good news is that people are still coming in and taking delivery of their airplanes and paying for them,” said Cessna Sales & Marketing VP Roger Whyte.

He also said that while some are delaying jet deliveries, others are using the opportunity to take deliveries earlier than planned.

Whyte hopes Lufthansa’s new Citations will help Cessna sell more planes in Europe.

Something of concern to local plane makers is the increasing number of used aircraft for sale, which drives prices down.

Cessna’s research has found that many jet owners have “for sale” signs on their planes, but don’t really want to sell them. Some of it has to do with the political correctness of the times.

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