UAE-based Gulf Wings, sister company of Jordan’s Arab Wings (Stand 627), plans to add two aircraft to its fleet by early 2013 and to move its offices to Dubai World Central (DWC) before the end of next year. “We expect to add a Challenger 604 to our managed fleet next month and possibly a Hawker 850XP in early 2013, which we see as a natural and attractive complement for our fleet of large business jets,” said Khaldoun Ghalayini, general manager of Gulf Wings FZE.
Operating four Bombardier Challengers–three 605s and one 604–Gulf Wings sprang from the success of Arab Wings, founded in 1975 as a subsidiary of Royal Jordanian and the first private jet charter operator in the Middle East. (Today, Arab Wings operates a fleet of 14 small-, mid-, super-mid and large-cabin aircraft.) During the 2009 Dubai Airshow, Gulf Wings announced that it had gained its AOC, and today it is based at Sharjah International Airport, with aircraft operating from Dubai International Airport (DIA).
Gulf Wings is likely to be at the vanguard of an exodus to the “promised land” that DWC, also known as Al Maktoum International Airport, represents in terms of space and lack of congestion. Although Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport, established in 2009 on a former military facility, has won admiring glances from bizjet operators held back by queues at DIA, DWC appears to be the location the smart money is swinging behind, despite its distance from downtown Dubai (23 miles).
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to move offices to the Aviation City [at DWC], where all indications point to it becoming the new hub for business aviation in Dubai,” said Ghalayini. “While this shift is generating [worry and argument among] companies operating from DIA, we feel operating from a less congested airport, with no arrival or departure time and slot restriction, cheaper parking and more options for ground support, will ultimately prove to be in the best interest of operators and owners.”
The Royal Jordanian Air Academy acquired Arab Wings in 2005, and in 2009 International Wings Group (IWG) was set up as the academy’s holding company, as well as that of Arab Wings, Gulf Wings and the Queen Noor Civil Aviation Technical College, an ICAO-licensed training center. Today, IWG has 14 aircraft under management and four owned aircraft. Arab Wings’ aircraft are on long-term contracts with multinational corporations operating in the Middle East. Arab Wings also has its own Part M and Part 145 certification and is an authorized service center for Bombardier Challengers.
“I’m happy with where the market is today. It’s cleaned itself of the mom-and-pop operators in region. This will do the industry good. I see growth, year-over-year, and that’s good for us,” said Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh, Arab Wings’ Amman-based CEO, who is looking to increase the number of aircraft under management. “The goal is always to try to improve service and footprint in the Middle East by exploring the latest happenings. The MEBA show is a very good place to find that out.”o