Bombardier is making plans to open a pilot training facility for its business aircraft family here in the Middle East. Dubai has been earmarked as the likely venue for the new center and, according to Khader Mattar, the Canadian airframer’s vice president for Middle East and Africa, it could be open before the end of next year.
“Over the past three or four years we have seen a really big increase in the number of our aircraft operating in this region with the growth coming from both old and new customers,” Mattar told MEBA Convention News. He said the United Arab Emirates is a hotspot for fleet growth and is now second in the region to Saudi Arabia in terms of business aircraft numbers. Significant numbers of new orders for Bombardier aircraft have also come from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
“There is now a lot more business travel happening within the region and airline service is quite restricted,” Mattar added. From his perspective, Bombardier hasn’t seen any significant impact on Middle Eastern demand in response to the global financial crisis. “Things slowed during the summer period, but this is normal. Up to July 31, sales were very good. I hope that oil prices stay the same now [that is, don’t fall further and reduce a key source of local earnings],” he said.
One factor that has boosted business aircraft sales has been the growing willingness of Middle Eastern banks to provide finance for transactions. Mattar explained that changes in financing laws over the past five years have made it easier for Middle Eastern customers to tap funds.
Here at the MEBA show, Bombardier (Stand No. 541) is exhibiting a cross section of its product range, including a Learjet 60XR, a Challenger 300, a Challenger 605 and a Global XRS. In the Middle East, ExecuJet Aviation is its main distributor for the Learjet family, while TAG Aeronautics markets the larger Challengers and Global Express models.
The manufacturer claims that with a top speed of Mach 0.81, the Learjet 60XR is the fastest bizjet in its class. It has enough range to fly nonstop from Dubai to Moscow. According to Mattar, the Learjets have been selling well among new, younger customers in the Middle East, with the 60 series being the most popular.
The super-midsize Challenger 300 is the first business aircraft to feature Lufthansa Technik’s latest NICE cabin management system as standard equipment. It can operate unrestricted from 5,000-foot runways and can fly nonstop from Dubai to Beijing.
Bombardier claims that the Challenger 605, which is currently its most successful product in the Middle East, has the widest stand-up cabin in its class. It has enough range for trips from Dubai to London, Johannesburg or Singapore. But the Global XRS has even longer legs. It can carry eight passengers and three or four crew, nonstop from Dubai to any city in Europe, Asia or Africa.
Bombardier is still the only business aircraft manufacturer with a factory-owned service center in the Middle East, through its joint venture operation with ExecuJet here in Dubai. This facility can handle the heaviest maintenance tasks, including intensive C- and D-checks. The manufacturer also employs two customer support staff in Dubai (where it has a parts warehouse) and has a technical representative based in Qatar.