EBACE Convention News

Merged Raya and Ayla agree to aim higher

 - May 12, 2009, 12:15 PM

RayaJet and Ayla Aviation Academy advanced their plan to form a new business aviation service group in Jordan and other parts of the Middle East by signing a memorandum of understanding here at the EBACE show yesterday. By the end of this year, the two companies intend to restructure under a single name.

The goal of the combined company is to offer charter, management and maintenance, training and ground-handling services from its Amman headquarters. The partners are also laying plans to establish a new general aviation service center at Aqaba. More specifically, the new company intends to provide authorized service capability for both Cessna and Bombardier aircraft, as well as operate flight simulator capacity for both manufacturers.

RayaJet serves customers in Jordan, Dubai, Kuwait, Yemen, Egypt and Greece. Expansion into Saudi Arabia remains a goal, Dajani said. The company has been in talks with a Saudi aircraft operator’s certificate holder with a view to entering the potentially lucrative, but highly restrictive, Saudi charter market.

Also part of the RayaJet group is sister company SAMA which provides handling services at Marka Amman Civil Airport, as well as other Jordanian airports. Last year, the company responded to a tender to become the sole handler at Amman International Airport but the tender process was abandoned without a contract being awarded.

RayaJet chairman Nader Dajani also explained the thinking behind the Jordanian charter operator’s purchase here at EBACE of a Hawker Beechcraft Premier II light jet.

“The Middle East has always been focused on luxury,” Dajani said. “The bigger and fancier, the better. In the U.S., business people work out their cost per hour and decide how they can save money. They are astute. They count dollars before cents. We hope we can bring that kind of thinking to the Middle East with the Premier II.”

RayaJet will target the Premier II, scheduled for delivery in 2011, to “upper managers” in the Middle East by advertising per-hour charter rates between $2,000 and $2,500. Dajani said the introduction of a six-passenger light jet would “open a market niche that is not available” in a region dominated by large-cabin Gulfstreams and Challengers.

Founded in 2005, Rayajet operates a Challenger 601 and is negotiating to buy a Challenger 604, Dajani said. It also intends to upgrade its AOC to allow it to operate larger aircraft carrying more than 20 passengers.