In mid-2009, Qatar Airways received two 4,000-nmi-range Bombardier Challenger 605s and a Challenger 300 for new charter subsidiary Qatar Executive. The airline wants a piece of what it believes is still rising demand for on-demand, private charter services.
“Despite the current global economic climate, there remains a strong need to travel to face-to-face business meetings in the shortest possible time,” said Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker. “Whether flying from Doha to Bahrain for a breakfast meeting and back, or continuing to Dubai for lunch and further to Abu Dhabi for an early evening meeting before returning to Doha for dinner, the corporate jet makes this possible.”
Qatar Executive, which benefits from the airline’s experience in having run Qatar’s Amiri Flight, will allow corporate and private travelers to book an aircraft as little as four hours before departure and check in 10 minutes before takeoff.
“Forecast growth in the Middle East corporate market is expected to be 15 to 20 percent [a year] until 2012, so there is a clear opportunity for [us] to capitalize on this trend,” said Al Baker. The airline quotes Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) figures showing that the Middle East corporate market has grown at an average annual rate of 13 percent since 2000, with the region’s business jet fleet more than doubling in size from 200 to 450 during 2000-08. According to CAPA, the market is estimated to be worth $500- to $700 million a year. Individual wealth in the Gulf region is expected to grow by over 50 percent during 2008-12, up from $2.1 trillion to around $3.8 trillion, according to international management consultancy Oliver Wyman.
Al Baker said more aircraft will be introduced “in the not-too-distant future,” but he declined to be more precise. “We will want to be not too big, but it will depend on how successful we are in our business plan.”