Petters Group WorldwideTM has entered into an agreement with Airbus to acquire an A318 Elite private corporate jet, becoming the first US customer for this aircraft type. Based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Petters Group plans to use its subsidiary Petters Aviation to manage the A318 Elite for private corporate domestic and international flights.

The Airbus A318 Elite is the newest and smallest member of the Airbus corporate jetliner (ACJ) Family, which includes the ACJ and A320 Prestige. Airbus corporate jets have won 22 sales this year, comprising 21 Airbus ACJ Family aircraft and one VIP A330-200, setting a new record. Total sales of the Airbus ACJ Family stand at around 80 aircraft.

"Airbus' A318 Elite is a best in its class corporate jet. We look forward to an on-going partnership with Airbus in developing the North America business jet market," says Tom Petters, Chairman and CEO of Petters Group Worldwide.

The Airbus ACJ Family delivers more in features such as fuel-saving wingtip-fences, cost-saving centralised maintenance and weight-saving composites. It also has many other benefits that have become the hallmark of Airbus aircraft - such as a pilot-friendly common cockpit, fly-by-wire controls and category 3B autoland.

"Big jet comfort has never been as affordable as it is with the A318 Elite, as more and more companies are realising," says Airbus President & CEO and EADS Co-CEO Louis Gallois. "And with the greater space and comfort that the A318 Elite offers, we are confident of a great market for it, especially in regions such as North America."

Airbus' ACJ Family is increasingly the preferred choice of companies, governments and individuals for corporate aircraft, because of its robust reliability, solid support and comfortable cabin, which offers twice the cabin-width and three times the volume of traditional top-of-the-line business jets, delivering unmatched value for money.

"The addition of this aircraft is significant to Petters Aviation as we work to expand our offerings to other Petters Group companies and outside customers," says Jay Salmen, President of Petters Aviation.

Total sales of the Airbus A320 Family stand at almost 4,500, nearly 3,000 of which have been delivered. The family has more than 200 customers and operators.

Airbus is an EADS company.