Gama Group, the fast-growing business aviation services group, is quickly settling into its new base at Sharjah International Airport. The Farnborough, UK-based company is finding that customers now recognize the limitations of Dubai International Airport, which has become increasingly busy with airline traffic, making it hard for business aircraft operators to get convenient slots–especially at short notice. Meanwhile, Gama’s move into Saudi Arabia with new FBOs planned in Jeddah and Riyadh are coming together fast.
All MEBA 2012 News
Here at MEBA 2012 (Stand 588), OnAir announced that it has selected PATS Aircraft Systems of Georgetown, Del., as an OnAir completion center. PATS specializes in Boeing BBJ completions and auxiliary fuel tank installations and is installing Mobile OnAir in a 737-900ER BBJ. “We are seeing a high demand from VIP jet operators for in-flight connectivity,” said John Eichten, PATS senior vice president of sales and marketing. “PATS prides itself on finding innovative and industry-leading ways to satisfy our customers’ requirements, and our partnership with OnAir is a good example of that.”
Buyers of Dassault Falcon 7X jets can select the option for installation of OnAir’s mobile telephone and Internet equipment on aircraft delivered in 2014 and beyond. OnAir equipment enables passengers to use their mobile phones and Wi-Fi devices without complicated setup and billing processes–as many visitors to MEBA would have experienced already on Emirates aircraft inbound to Dubai over the past few days.
ExecuJet Middle East has been able to expand its FBO at Dubai International Airport significantly, having taken over the management of the terminal building and ground-handling operation previously run by Executive Flight Services. This gives its customers access to additional space with eight separate lounges, enlarged customs and immigration services (including electronic processing) and duty-free shopping.
The building also features a separate prayer room, a spacious arrivals area for meeting and greeting passengers, as well as a limousine drop-off area and parking.
The Middle East market appears to be picking up as part of a gradual recovery from the downturn, but the turnaround is “generally slower than we would have liked,” according to Mike Berry managing director of ExecuJet Middle East.
Vision Systems (Stand 200) is here at MEBA with two new cabin products: a tablet support arm called Smart Up, and VisiConnect, a system providing in-flight Internet connectivity. Both are available for all types of business jets.
Smart Up is a motorized-deployment arm that is integrated in the passenger’s armrest. The 3.3-pound device can accommodate any type of tablet in portrait or landscape position, and its orientation can be changed easily. Lyon, France-based Vision Systems said Embraer has already adopted it for its Phenom 300 light business jet.
Qatar’s Rizon Jet (Stand 340) is eyeing business from all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, expanding its aircraft maintenance services and building up its aircraft trading and management offering, while preparing the ground for a move to the new Doha Airport and the establishment of an FBO at Paris Le Bourget airport.
Saudi Arabia’s NasJet claims it is poised to grow revenues by 20 percent next year, after a healthy 6 percent gain during 2012. The increase, according to CEO Ghassan Hamdan, is due to growing aircraft management and operations support and more local charter agreements and charter business. In the first quarter of 2013, NasJet will open a new FBO at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh in conjunction with Switzerland’s ExecuJet.
Ali Al Naqbi has been at the heart of business aviation developments in the Middle East for more than a decade, playing a central role in the formation of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), of which he is chairman. This role followed three years as managing director of Abu Dhabi-based aircraft charter and management group Royal Jet. Previously, for almost 20 years, he had been with Abu Dhabi’s Amiri flight, from which Royal Jet was formed.
Dassault has introduced yet another new version of its popular Falcon 2000 super-midsize twinjet. The 2000LXS combines the range and amenities of the Falcon 2000LX with the short field capabilities of the Falcon 2000S.