Gama Aviation’s FBO at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) witnessed 70 percent growth in traffic during 2013. During the second quarter of this year, the company expects to complete development of new passenger and crew lounges. It is also set to double staffing levels at the facility by the end of May.
“The year so far has started well. We expect the same kind of growth in 2014,” said Richard Lineveldt, Gama’s general manager in Sharjah. “We’ve been working for the last two years as the exclusive FBO at the airport. We’ve managed to streamline the service. All our [charter/management] aircraft are based in Sharjah, except one, which is based at Al Bateen [in Abu Dhabi].”
The new FBO has helped make Sharjah International Airport a business aviation hub for the UAE. According to Lineveldt, it is increasingly being seen a an alternative to the busy Dubai International Airport (DXB), which is set to see its capacity further squeezed by an 80-day runway closure from May 1.
“Some 1,000 movements at DXB need to move over to Dubai World Central or Sharjah. That’s why we are proposing Sharjah as a viable option for people,” he said. “The reason they are there is the convenience of it. Dubai-based businesses and companies are seeking extra convenience.”
Gama is working with the airport to secure the additional ground support equipment it needs to cope with the anticipated further increases in traffic. The FBO aims to achieve a 30-minute turnaround from an aircraft landing to taking off again, and says that passengers can in a car to their final destination within six minutes of landing. Sharjah International Airport is about a 25 minute drive from Dubai’s financial center and about 30 minutes from Ras Al Khaimah.
“After considerable investment in improving the facilities for business jets at Sharjah International our FBO service offering now includes aircraft maintenance, gourmet catering, refrigerated storage units, premium lounges and a royal majlis [VVIP lounge], fast fueling capabilities, an onsite business hotel and a new international newspaper service, which comes online from March 1,” said Oliver Hewson, Gama’s commercial manager for the Middle East and North Africa. Gama took over full responsibility for handling business aviation traffic through a partnership with Sharjah Airport Authority established in early 2012.
Gama has added a Gulfstream G650 to its managed fleet. The UK-based group’s charter fleet now includes an Embraer Legacy 600, a Bombardier Challenger 604 and a Hawker 800 XP. The company has six bases around the world, with the other locations being at Farnborough and Glasgow in the UK, the New York City-area Teterboro Airport, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Stratford, Conn.
By the end of March, Gama’s Sharjah facility hopes to receive Part 145 maintenance approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency. The company is exhibiting at the Air Expo show in Abu Dhabi this week.