(Adds comments from Gulfstream president, context)
By Allison Lampert and Mike Stone
Feb 20 (Reuters) - Business jet deliveries worldwide rose 3.8 percent on an annual basis to 703 planes in 2018, lifted by demand from North America and the introduction of new models, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said on Wednesday.
Forecasters and corporate plane makers expect higher business jet deliveries in 2019, fueled by the recent entry into service of new aircraft such as Bombardier’s Global 7500 and U.S. rival Gulfstream’s G500.
“Year over year as we start 2019, I think we’re in a stronger position than we saw at the beginning of last year,” Gulfstream President Mark Burns said in Washington.
Demand for business jets has been slowly recovering from slumping sales after the 2009 global economic crisis.
Gulfstream intends to deliver its first G600 business jet during the first half of 2019, Burns said on the sidelines of a GAMA event in Washington. The plane is also expected to receive certification in the first half of the year. Earlier, Canadian train and plane maker Bombardier Inc said it would deliver a handful of its flagship Global 7500 business jets to customers in the first half of 2019, with the remaining 10-15 deliveries expected in the second half. Deliveries are a closely watched metric since that is the point when customers pay the bulk of the cost of a new plane. In 2018, general aviation aircraft deliveries rose across all segments for the first time in five years, helped by demand for new models, GAMA said.
Global airplane deliveries increased to 2,443 planes in 2018, up 4.7 percent on an annual basis, according to data from Washington-based GAMA. Rotorcraft deliveries rose 5.4 percent to 976 aircraft.
The “impacts” of a 35-day, partial U.S. government shutdown that ended on Jan. 25 are “still being felt and assessed,” GAMA said. The shutdown affected the G600’s certification program.
But Gulfstream, a division of U.S. aerospace and defense company General Dynamics Corp, is working through the backlog created by delays from the shutdown, Burns said. (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and Susan Thomas)