The Airbus "Phoenix" cabin is designed with the Asian jetsetter in mind (Image: Airbus)
Despite a stubborn lack of clarity on the opening of low-altitude airspace for private jets in China, manufacturers like Airbus, Embraer and Gulfstream continue to plow their way into the Chinese market, taking part in events like the recently concluded Hainan Rendez-Vous and the upcoming China General Aviation Summit (July 7-8 in Xi'an) and actively courting wealthy potential buyers. For Airbus in particular, China is rapidly becoming a key market despite the legal limbo in which most private jets currently operate, with the company selling 20 aircraft in China since 2005, accounting for about 25 per cent of its total business jet sales.
This week, Airbus announced its newest "five year plan" for China, during which it hopes to sell five jets annually and customize jets with what it refers to as "designs in line with traditional Chinese culture." This makes Airbus the newest company to jump on the "China-only" bandwagon. Recently, Airbus announced that its new "Phoenix" business jet cabin, which is outfitted to the specifications of the Asia market, will offer a special "red wine-colored" interior exclusively for the China market. Via Manufacturing Digital's coverage of the Airbus Phoenix:
The main cabin features seating for up to six people around a large circular table, which facilities work-related discussions and dining, cornerstones of Asian life and culture. Airbus claims that its jets are capable of accommodating these features due to having the widest and tallest cabins of any business jet.
The circular table can also fold into a rectangular shape when needed in case any passengers want to play Asian related games such as Mah Jong. Karaoke, another archetypal Asian pastime, is possible as the Phoenix cabin concept also offers an area for this activity.
While these features seem a bit heavy on the tokenism, and Airbus failed to further detail what (aside from the red interiors) it has in mind for its China-version jets, we can expect more customized color schemes and possibly interiors inspired by traditional Chinese furniture design. (In other words, expect lots of carved zitan wood.) As it gears up for a stronger push in China, Airbus is already off to a good start on its annual goal of selling five jets, with the company recently announcing the sale of two private jets in the Chinese mainland since the beginning of the year.