MEBAA Convention News

New Saudi group to fill void in region's support services

 - November 15, 2008, 6:09 AM

MAZ Aviation chairman Mohammed Al-Zeer yesterday unveiled a new group of companies that will bring several specialized services for business and private aircraft to the Middle East by 2011. Under holding company Ajwaa Alalam group are Ajwaa Alalam Aviation Services, which will focus on aircraft and fleet management services; Ajwaa Alalam Technical Company, which will provide aircraft maintenance services; and Ajwaa Alalam Logistics, which will concentrate on parts and logistics support services.

Al-Zeer, who is also chairman of Ajwaa Alalam, said the holding company would be “the operating arm of MAZ Aviation” and that it is owned by MAZ Aviation. “We have committed $300 million to this project with $70 million earmarked for establishing a 10,000-square-meter [100,800-square-foot] maintenance and support center at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh,” he told a press conference in Dubai.

One large hangar of about 8,000 square meters will hold three narrowbody airliners or one widebody, such as an Airbus A340 or Boeing 777, and two large corporate jets, such as a Gulfstream V or Global Express. Two separate hangars of about 1,500 square meters will each accommodate an aircraft the size of an A320 or BBJ2.

“The civil aviation authority of Saudi Arabia has already approved the project and the engineering design has started,” said Al-Zeer. “The facility will obtain full certification by the FAA, EASA and Saudi Arabia CAA.” He expects the two-year project to be completed by the first quarter of 2011. At that time, the three Ajwaa Alalam companies will move from their temporary facilities to the new one.

A part of the remaining $230 million investment will be used to acquire specialized equipment for the maintenance facility and the rest will be used to increase “our own fleet of aircraft,” said Al-Zeer. “Our vision is that our clients will always have access to an airplane, for example, when their own airplane is under maintenance.”

By “bringing world-class services” to the Middle East, Al-Zeer said Ajwaa Alalam would change the current status of aviation service in what he characterized as “one of the most important markets for the business and private aviation community [that] is yet one of the most underserved markets in terms of services and support.”

In selecting Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport as the location for the maintenance and support center, Al-Zeer gave two reasons. First, Saudi Arabia has had a business aviation community since the 1950s and today the country spends more per capita on private aviation than any other country in the world. “It is the biggest market in the region and the most stable,” he said. The second reason is geographical: “Riyadh is in the middle of Saudi Arabia, which is in the middle of the Middle East.”

Along with announcing the establishment of Ajwaa Alalam group, Al-Zeer signed an agreement with Jerry Gore, CEO of Gore Design Completions, for the full refurbishment and reconfiguration of the interior of an Airbus A340-200 for a Middle Eastern client of MAZ Aviation. MAZ Aviation is in Chalet No. 19 here at MEBA.

Meanwhile, Al-Zeer has also confirmed that the six A350XWB Prestige aircraft that MAZ Aviation has on order for its clients will be delivered between 2014 and 2022. The company is handling all phases of the interior completion design on these aircraft–a process that will likely take a year to complete.

In addition to the new widebody Prestiges, MAZ is currently handling the design and delivery process for 14 other client aircraft. Al-Zeer said he aspires to having a highly personal relationship with customers and so purposely restricts the number of aircraft he takes on.

Al-Zeer told MEBA Convention News that people with the resources to buy bizliners in the Prestige class are essentially immune from the fallout from the global financial crisis. In his view, the smaller aircraft segments of the business aviation market are more exposed to the downturn.