By Allison Lampert
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Deals kicked off on Monday ahead of the world’s largest business jet show, led by a $1.4 billion (£1.08 billion) order for aircraft from Brazil's Embraer SA <EMBR3.SA> while rivals touted recent improvements in flight ranges and aftermarket services.
Michael Silverstro, chief executive of fractional aircraft ownership provider Flexjet, announced a firm order for 64 Embraer business jets, including a mix of the planemaker's mid-size and super mid-sized Praetor aircraft.
The announcement came ahead of the biggest business jet show anywhere around the globe. It opens on Tuesday and features new large corporate planes that can fly farther, services like fast Wifi at 40,000 feet and an industry push toward sustainable aviation fuels.
The Praetor order comes as Embraer is pursuing a broader strategy to grow its executive-jet division as it cedes control of its commercial aviation division to U.S. planemaker Boeing Co <BA.N>. Embraer launched the Praetors at the National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) show last year.
The highlight of this year's NBAA show is widely expected to be the Monday evening announcement of a new long-range jet from U.S. planemaker Gulfstream, which declined comment.
The jet is expected to be a response to Bombardier's <BBDb.TO> flagship Global 7500 aircraft.
"Anything else out there is just a stretch," Bombardier Aviation President David Coleal said about the Global 7500 at a Las Vegas press conference on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Bombardier said its new Global 5500 aircraft will fly 200 nautical miles farther than planned, with a range of 5,900 nautical miles, a lure for customers eager to travel non-stop between far-flung cities.
The Montreal-based plane and train maker is adding a pair of line maintenance stations at two U.S. locations, which will introduce unscheduled services to customers and then build toward scheduled maintenance operations in the coming months.
Bombardier has focused on boosting sales of new products and maintenance packages to drive revenue growth for its aftermarket service business.
Textron <TXT.N> announced a further expansion of its global parts distribution capabilities to make its parts more accessible to customers.
Textron Aviation, which produces Cessna Aircraft, said it increased warehouse square footage at three U.S. locations by nearly 50%, to over 8,000 square feet. The U.S. expansion follows Textron's plans to make parts more readily available to customers in Europe and Asia-Pacific earlier this year.
“Aftermarket has always been a key business driver to ensure we can support our customers,” said Kriya Shortt, senior vice president, global customer support for Textron Aviation.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Las Vegas; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Tom Brown)