Most of the companies giving press conferences at the National Business Aircraft Association convention in Orlando, Fla., are talking about the economy and the one- to three-year wait they expect before the good times return. Not Piaggio Aero.
Company officials said that since they are small, they were able to react quickly. The yearly delivery rate of 25 to 30 aircraft a year continues unaffected. There is a backlog of 73 aircraft.
Company officials admit they concentrated on sending a “positive message” while others declared themselves at war with the economic enemy. Yet there is justification. For example, the company has no unsold aircraft awaiting customers. One of the largest customers, Avantair, has taken delivery of its fifty-fifth aircraft.
Company officials also see themselves in a good position to argue during a recession that their aircraft is more fuel efficient, burning a total 100 gph at a time when corporate jets have much higher fuel burns. The firm’s officials decided this was a good time for change and started with the company name, adding the word “Aero” to clear up any confusion over whether Piaggio is an aerospace firm. They have doubled and tripled marketing efforts and spiffed up convention exhibits, seeing a recession as a time to make their case that downsizing to a fast turboprop from a jet makes sense. The company also increased the number of service centers in the United States and placed new centers in Canada for the first time.
There was, however, a brief mention of the recession when CEO Alberto Galassi predicted the recovery will not come first from the United States, but from Asia and Europe. He didn’t speculate on when that might occur.