Many wealthy Middle Easterners visit London at least once a year, usually for a break from the hot summer, so perhaps it is no surprise that the first shop window for business jets is in an up-market area of the UK capital at One Grosvenor Place–just across the road from Buckingham Palace.
The only big-three Middle East airline player to have an executive jet operation, Qatar Executive is expanding its fleet, preparing for the opening of its FBO at New Doha International Airport in 2014, and increasing destination options for its customers.
Dassault Falcon sees demand for business jets recovering throughout the Middle East, thanks to large operators in the region and the increased globalization of commerce. The company expects to deliver six Falcons to Middle East customers over the next 18 months, expanding the Falcon fleet in the Middle East by 10 percent. More than 60 Falcon business jets already operate in the region.
The Middle East market appears to be picking up as part of a gradual recovery from the downturn, but the turnaround is “generally slower than we would have liked,” according to Mike Berry managing director of ExecuJet Middle East.
Qatar’s Rizon Jet (Stand 340) is eyeing business from all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, expanding its aircraft maintenance services and building up its aircraft trading and management offering, while preparing the ground for a move to the new Doha Airport and the establishment of an FBO at Paris Le Bourget airport.
Ali Al Naqbi has been at the heart of business aviation developments in the Middle East for more than a decade, playing a central role in the formation of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), of which he is chairman. This role followed three years as managing director of Abu Dhabi-based aircraft charter and management group Royal Jet. Previously, for almost 20 years, he had been with Abu Dhabi’s Amiri flight, from which Royal Jet was formed.
Royal Jet, the commercial private jet concern owned by the UAE’s Presidential Flight Authority and Abu Dhabi Aviation, is planning a major fleet expansion in 2013, the year of its 10th anniversary. A defection by the nine-jet company away from Boeing, given that Royal Jet owns the world’s largest Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) fleet–six aircraft–would be a major blow for the U.S. manufacturer.
The Middle East remains the sales sweet-spot when it comes to regions that business jet manufacturers look to for customers despite its relatively small size and the rapid emergence of China, Brazil and other countries where momentum is building. This is true in particular of large cabin jets and corporate versions of airliners.
As the business aircraft market continues to recover from the industry downturn, AIN took a look at recent forecasts from manufacturers as to where growth may be heading and the factors that are likely to affect it most.
Embraer Executive Jets’ first U.S.-assembled Phenom 300 was rolled out and made its first flight yesterday, exactly one year after the first Phenom 100 to be produced in the U.S. took its maiden flight. The Phenom 300 started rolling down the company’s Melbourne, Fla. assembly line in September. Delivery of this light jet is scheduled in the first quarter; it will go to the Embraer Executive Jets Melbourne-based flight department, which will use it as a demonstrator.