Piaggio's promotion campaign for its Avanti EVO is in full swing, and CEO Renato Vaghi says that while initially targeting mature and established markets such as the US and Europe, he is also anticipating interest in the Middle East and Africa. Its Avanti was on display at ACE17, which took place on 12 September at London Biggin Hill airport.
“The EVO, being an evolution of the Avanti and the Avanti II, already has an important footprint in the US and Europe where we have the majority of our fleet,” he tells EBAN.
“About 50 per cent of the fleet is in the US, with Europe behind that and the rest of the world coming after that. Europe and the US are very mature markets of course, so we focus a lot of attention there. We believe there are significant opportunities, especially considering the features that the EVO offers.
“Over the past few years we have seen a lot of activity in other markets too. We have participated in several air shows and sold aircraft in areas where we had a limited presence before, including the Middle East and southeast Asia. We are seeing a growing interest in our products in these parts of the world.”
Vaghi has seen that there are certain popular city pairs in the Middle East that mirror those in Europe: “There is a lot of traffic between the countries in the GCC region, and we see a lot of potential in that market; it has a similar model to the European routes.
“Middle Eastern customers are very specific in their taste. If we were to talk merely about aircraft size, we might have limited potential in the Middle East market because the EVO is quite a small aircraft when compared to the large luxurious aircraft that are popular in that area. But we also know that in countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, there is an appetite for luxury products and design.
“Everything that is Italian captures the attention over there, and in this sense the EVO really stands out; it is unique in its category. Even though it first flew in 1986, the aircraft is still very modern and futuristic. All the prospects we have flown so far confirm that it is a strong product.”
With regard to Africa, Vaghi is busy laying plans. “We do have a sales presence in some countries on the continent, and one of the units on our production line is going to an African customer,” he continues. “There are many countries in Africa that are experiencing rapid economic growth and have an increasing need for aircraft of this category. Although it is not our number one focus, the continent of Africa has varying needs depending on the area. We have focused on several central African countries as well as the Maghreb region in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The P.180 can fit into some of these markets well.”
The OEM moved to a new production plant a couple of years ago at Villanova D'Albenga, halfway between Genoa and Nice, and is in the process of ramping up production.
“We are looking to ensure that the EVO occupies the place it deserves in the market. We are absolutely sure that it is going to be a successful product, and are making sure that it is compatible with a factory that is modern and up to date,” Vaghi concludes.