By Doug Cameron
General Dynamics Corp. on Monday unveiled its long-awaited new business jet, a high-end aircraft aimed at securing a position in a market that has struggled for a decade to shake off weak demand as companies cut back on flying executives aboard private jets.
The company's Gulfstream unit said it has secured initial orders for its new G700 jet, which will seat 19 passengers for long-haul journeys. It said an arm of Qatar Airways is buying 10 and U.S.-based Flexjet is taking an undisclosed number. First deliveries are expected in 2022.
The G700 was shown at an industry show in Las Vegas on Monday.
Gulfstream accounts for a quarter of General Dynamics' sales and a third of profits, and the launch comes as its parent faces headwinds from a review of U.S. Army priorities that could affect franchises such as the Abrams tank.
General Dynamics has previously said its jets have withstood the multiyear slowdown in sales to companies, wealthy individuals and rental companies better than rivals such as Textron Inc., Bombardier Inc, and Embraer SA.
While new models have helped drive sales in recent years, they have also cannibalized orders for existing planes, which analysts said could affect demand for Gulfstream's existing G650 jet.
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