RBS, Citigroup cancel jets for top executives

PARIS, March 19 Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:33am EDT

PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup have cancelled orders for private jets for top executives in the wake of the financial crash and a public backlash over corporate perks, French planemaker Dassault Aviation said on Thursday.

RBS (RBS.L) was bailed out by the British government late last year and is mired in a row over a 16.6 million-pound ($23.7 million) pension pot for former Chief Executive Fred Goodwin.

RBS placed the order for a state-of-the-art Falcon 7X business jet worth $40-45 million about five years ago, and the plane was due to be delivered this year.

But the bank, now controlled by the UK government, cancelled the order late last year, Dassault (AVMD.PA) civil aerospace business head Olivier Villa told Reuters.

Asked whether the 19-seat plane, capable of flying from London to Tokyo, was intended for Goodwin's use, Villa said he did not know but assumed the aircraft was for the bank's "top executive team".

Citigroup (C.N) scrapped orders at around the same time for three Falcon 7X jets, Villa added.

The business jet market has been severely hit by the recession and negative publicity in the United States, Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne told a news conference earlier, adding that business jets still made economic sense.

"In the last three months there have been more cancellations than orders," he said. "We have some of the most prestigious clients. (Citigroup's) Citibank was one of them. RBS was another. And, of course, they have cancelled." For a news story on Dassault Aviation's 2008 results, double click on [ID:nLJ194777] (Editing by David Cowell) ($1=.7020 Pound)

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