Piaggio Aerospace (Booth W83, Static Display AD_17) is debuting a corporate shuttle variant of the Avanti Evo this week at EBACE 2023. The showing of the quick-change shuttle-configured version of the turboprop twin comes less than two weeks after the Italian government gave the go-ahead to make a third attempt to sell the aircraft manufacturer.
With seating for seven passengers in a high-density layout, the shuttle-configured Evo is targeted at corporations and charter operators looking to provide group transportation. To broaden its appeal, the variant can “easily be reconfigured for cargo or medevac operations,” said Piaggio.
A quick-change shuttle variant has been available to Piaggio’s military and governmental customers with 20 examples-all earlier Avanti models-now in service. “This configuration has found success with the Italian Air Force and other institutional customers, so we decided to open up the market to private customers and operators,” the company noted.
The offering will also allow Piaggio’s prospective new owner to gauge the market for a dedicated commercial passenger shuttle, a concept the firm has been eyeing for some time to broaden the market for the Evo.
In October 2019-just ahead of the launch of its first public tender-Piaggio touted two eight-passenger, corporate shuttle interior concepts for its flagship business aircraft. The first was a classic version with lightweight seats and integrated headrests and the other was a more modular design with high-tech advanced seat materials.
The Evo is the third iteration of the P180 Avanti family, which was introduced in 2015. Sixteen copies of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66B-powered type are in service and 17 more are on order.
Piaggio Aerospace-which embraces Piaggio Aero and Piaggio Aviation-has been in extraordinary receivership since December 2018, when previous owner Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, pulled out. Two previous attempts to sell the airframer in 2019 and 2022 failed when no agreement with buyers could be reached.
According to the latest quarterly update for Piaggio Aerospace covering the period ending Dec. 31, 2022, 11 expressions of interest were received during the most recent sales process. Of these, five were taken forward to the due-diligence phase. A binding offer was also received from a consortium, the update noted. Although no name has been disclosed, the offer is widely believed to have come from Sweden’s Summa Equity, which had been negotiating exclusively with Piaggio during the first bidding process.
Headquartered in Villanova D’Albenga near Genoa, Piaggio suggests that the bidders in both rounds filed offers that did not meet the tender requirements. “Our objective is to identify a new owner for the company that not only recognizes its fair [market] value but also proposes a long-term strategy, safeguarding both skills and employment,” it said.
To improve its chances of selling the company this time, the Italian government has appointed two more extraordinary commissioners-Carmelo Cosentino, former chief executive of Italian aircraft manufacturer Aermacchi, and Gianpaolo Davide Rossetti, a chartered accountant and auditor. They join Vincenzo Nicastro, who was installed by Piaggio at the start of the sale process.
Documents supporting the sale process stipulate that expressions of interest must say which entities or business units the bidders want to buy, along with “recovery/development programs planned for them.” Also, prospective bidders should detail the corporate structure and chain of command of their operations and present three years’ worth of financial statements.
Interested parties have until the close of business on June 12 to supply the required information. A decision will then be made as to which can enter the 30-day due-diligence process.
For sale are all the business activities of Piaggio Aero, performed at five facilities across Italy. These consist of its Villanova D’Albenga site, plant, and machinery; inventory; certifications; employment contracts for around 850 staff; and intellectual property. Piaggio Aviation, meanwhile, holds the type certificates for the P.180 Avanti and the out-of-production P.166. The deadline to complete the sale process is May 13, 2024.
Piaggio Aerospace said it has an order backlog and contracts valued at more than €555 million.