Although charter providers form an important part of the Middle East aviation market they have faced tough times in recent years, unlike the region’s royal flights. “Royalty always had money and always will have money,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group, of Fairfax, Virginia. “The entrepreneur class that was growing has obviously been hit by the downturn, though,” he added.
With eight civil airports boasting IATA designations, it’s reasonable to ask why there are so many facilities in a country the size of the UAE. Partly, this is because five of the seven emirates Abu Dhabi (3), Dubai (2), Fujairah (1), Ras al-Khaimah (1) and Sarjah (1) have the demand. The other two–Ajman, at 259 sq km the smallest, and Umm al-Quwain, the least populous–do not.
The spectacular rise of Emirates and its Gulf rivals confounded the expectations of mature carriers in the U.S. and Europe. These fifth- and sixth-freedom carriers have limitless ambitions and enjoy the revenues won through hydrocarbon abundance to back them up. But personalities have also played a role and one thing is sure: the Ruler of Dubai has made himself a pivotal player on the world’s aviation stage.
Abu Dhabi’s Royal Jet, the commercial luxury private-jet operator, is to issue an RFP for the replacement of six Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) aircraft within the next two months, as it seeks to expand regional charter operations in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
DhabiJet–the FBO at Al Bateen Executive Airport, the only dedicated business aviation airport in the Middle East–has begun offering fueling services to all visiting aircraft at the Abu Dhabi, UAE airfield. It also plans to offer discounted fuel to attract technical stopovers and to encourage more airlines and private jets to use Al Bateen Executive Airport as their hub in the Middle East.
Billing itself as the fastest-growing airline in the history of commercial aviation, Etihad Airways keeps doing everything in its power to maintain momentum. Last week it announced the June 1 launch of nonstop flights to Los Angeles from Abu Dhabi, supported by the purchase of five Boeing 777-200LRs from Air India. By the end of the year, Etihad plans to expand its fleet to 87 airplanes, including the five Air India jets and 14 new widebodies delivered by Boeing and Airbus this year.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is defending its plan to establish a customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport staffed by its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency but mostly funded by the host UAE government. Airline industry groups contend the facility will mainly benefit Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi’s government-owned airline, and place U.S.
While the long-term goal for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is for 80 percent of their uses to be in the civilian sector, their main uses currently remain in the military sphere–although their role in border surveillance and disaster situations is increasing.
German air ambulance specialist Flight Ambulance International (Booth 1047) has named Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s Al Bateen Executive Airport as its preferred stopover airport in the Middle East region. Under the agreement, Al Bateen will host two Learjet 60s dedicated to air ambulance service and served by German Medical Teams. A Learjet 60 air ambulance can accommodate a medical team, one patient and two patient escorts and can carry critically ill patients between Abu Dhabi and anywhere in the world.
Aviation industry groups in the U.S. and Europe oppose a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to establish a customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport that would spare passengers the inconvenience of waiting at a customs checkpoint upon arrival in the U.S. A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers also questions the plan and has requested more information from the DHS.