Fujairah’s business has traditionally been in cement and mining, but ship bunkering has developed into a major industry, general shipping is thriving at Fujairah and Khorfakkan ports, and plans are in full swing to build an oil refinery, increase tank-farm storage facilities and develop tourism and real estate. This has created an opportunity for the emirate to develop business aviation at Fujairah International Airport, where Aurora Aviation was appointed earlier this year to run the facility’s FBO.
Nestling on the UAE’s east coast, Fujairah is the world’s biggest bunkering station between Rotterdam and Singapore. Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corp. began operations at its 1.5-million-barrels-a-day Habshan-Fujairah pipeline this summer, to bring around 60 percent of the UAE’s oil output to its eastern seaboard, allowing Abu Dhabi’s major export to avoid shipborne transit via strategic chokepoint, the Straits of Hormuz.
The UAE’s federal government system means that smaller emirates dwarfed by Dubai and Abu Dhabi must survive on their wits to sink or swim. Charles Hajdu, general manager of Fujairah International Airport, says changing culture and attitudes are driving business growth in Fujairah, especially in the downstream oil sector. “Oil and support businesses are growing at a phenomenal rate,” he told AIN. “Fujairah is turning into a much more dynamic and economically diverse area right now.”
Hajdu believes most business aviation travelers are working in oil, bunkering, construction and commodities trading. Fujairah’s deep-water port and free zone are also attracting interest. In September, Abu Dhabi’s Rotana Jet began domestic services between Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, part of its efforts to provide shuttles between six internal UAE destinations. Cargo has long been an airport mainstay, and aircraft dismantling is coming up in the shape of Falcon Aircraft Recycling.
Hajdu’s priorities are passenger, cargo, business aviation, MRO and recycling and ancillary services, including the airport’s aviation academy, in that order. “I can’t say that business aviation is the most important from a financial point of view, but from a service point of view, for the UAE in general and Fujairah in particular, I need a company to handle this and do really well.
“We recognize VIP is a specialist area and…have partnered with Aurora Aviation, which has taken over the executive aviation terminal to operate it as an FBO,” he continued. “I am delighted [Aurora] is there, as it also has a connection in the oil industry.” In announcing the arrangement in May, Aurora said it would be “providing a full range of ground-handling services and will explore the opportunities to enhance jet-fuel supply logistics at the airport.