Business Aviation Flourishing in the Middle East

 - November 19, 2013, 11:55 AM

According to aviation data research firm WingX Advance, there have been 139,966 business aviation movements at the top 22 airports in the Middle East so far this year, a 3-percent rise from the same period a year ago. WingX said the majority of departures from the region are headed to Europe.

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is the busiest of the 22 Middle Eastern airports, with 909 departures year-to-date, 62 percent of which are private flights, it said. Activity at Kuwait, which is one of the busiest charter departure points, is up 7 percent year-over-year.

Besides Saudi Arabia, the biggest business jet fleet is in the UAE, which has grown fivefold in the last decade, WingX data shows. “It’s a young fleet, too, at an average age of 8.8 years, compared to the aging Saudi and Israeli fleets, respectively 13.5 and 15.3 years. In fact 287 of the Middle East fleet are out of warranty,” WingX said. “But the largest operators, such as Empire Aviation Group and ExecuJet Middle East, have much younger fleets, at less than six years old.”

Overall, WingX believes that the Middle East business aviation market appears to have weathered the regional economic and political storms of the past few years and “might be at the start of a sustained growth path.”