EBACE Convention News

Homegrown support firms can slash Mideast red tape

 - May 14, 2007, 10:38 AM

Business aviation is undoubtedly growing in the Middle East– both in terms of greater numbers of locally based aircraft and jets visiting from outside the region. Although support infrastructure is now improving in many places, operations can still be quite awkward, largely due to continuing bureaucratic delays with overflight and landing permits.

In addition to Western flight planners who are increasing their presence in the region, the Middle East already has two homegrown sources of expert help for business aircraft operators and both can be found here at EBACE: Hadid International Aviation Services (Booth No. 1020) and Jetex Flight Support (Booth No. 1270).

Hadid has been providing flight planning and handling support for a wide variety of operators flying into and within the Middle East for the past three decades. It is headquartered in the Syrian capital Damascus and has a major operations center in Dubai for the Arabian Gulf states. The company also has a presence in Africa, as well as offices in London, Moscow and Hamburg in Germany.

Double-digit Growth
According to Dr. Ahmad Zuhaili, Hadid’s regional manager for the United Arab Emirates, the number of business aircraft registered in the Middle East has grown by more than 30 percent in the past decade. Hadid’s business has enjoyed double-digit growth over the past five years, and part of its success has been its ability to help clients in obscure places that no other company yet serves.

At the same time, bureaucracy is still standing in the way of business aviation progress in the region. “If you don’t know people personally, it is next to impossible to get permits,” he told EBACE Convention News. “Hadid’s agents are especially adept at negotiating permits in tricky locations where they can take days to acquire.”

Hadid recently introduced its own fuel purchase card in association with Jet Fleet International (JFI). This will give JFI clients easier access to Hadid’s range of services, as well as providing credit at many new international locations. Credit is an important consideration because significant numbers of airports in the Middle East and Africa still do not accept common credit cards, and some are not sufficiently stable for crews to feel comfortable arriving with cases full of cash.

In addition to flight planning and full-service ground handling, Hadid is also active as an aircraft charter broker. Its client base includes corporate flight departments and executive charter firms, as well as government/royal operations.

Dubai-based Jetex is a newer company but can still claim substantial experience, in part from having been founded by former Hadid staff. Jetex claims it can complete in one or two hours paperwork that would routinely take two or more days because its staff understands the process and has the right contacts. In addition to handling its own region, the company is increasingly getting involved in flights heading further east into India and China.