The Middle East Business Aviation Association’s efforts to help regulators take the initiative on pressing business aviation issues in the region, such as oversight and the gray-charter market, have helped to create debate in the Gulf, a market that is one of the most important to aircraft manufacturers.
ExecuJet Aviation Group’s Middle East joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s NasJet at the private aviation terminal at King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, which opened less than a year ago, is benefitting from robust levels of business in the Saudi capital, and is likely to continue to see higher levels of aircraft movements than regional hub Dubai, a company official said last month at MEBAC in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia saw almost 30,000 business jet movements last year, including 10,737 in Riyadh, 9,740 at Dammam and 9,392 in Jeddah (a total of 29,869 movements), according to data compiled by WingX for the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) show. Boeing has the strongest OEM presence in the kingdom, with 38 aircraft in 10 Middle East countries; since 2000, Airbus has sold 13 new aircraft in the region, Embraer eight and Bombardier five.
Riyadh International Airport’s private aviation terminal, which houses FBO facilities for several players under one roof, is a “disaster,” a senior Saudi aviation official told AIN today at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference in Riyadh.
The need for better regulation and firmer action to stem the tide of the so-called gray market in illegal charter flights will top the agenda at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference (MEBAC), which will be held in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, on April 10. The event is organized by the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), which is taking the lead in pushing for firmer legal foundations to support the region’s fast-growing industry.
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.
The Middle East Business Aviation Association plans to hold frequent regional conferences to stay attuned to its members. Its Middle East Business Aviation Conferences (MEBAC) will be held about four times a year in different countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The inaugural MEBAC will be held on June 4 at the Hilton Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Follow-on regional conferences will be held in Morocco on October 8, Dubai on November 17 and Bahrain on January 15.
Sudden sandstorms in the Middle East’s deserts are just one of the problems complicating the task of the region’s maintenance providers. At the recent MRO Middle East conference in Dubai, delegates heard that airlines often need to delay or even cancel departures on short notice due to unforeseen maintenance needs caused by sand and dust. Engines, bleed-air systems and air-conditioning packs are especially vulnerable to the region’s hot and unpredictable conditions.
Saudia Private Aviation (SPA), the business jet arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, is seeing increased interest from businesses in the Kingdom in acquiring new aircraft, as it prepared to open the largest FBO in the country, at Jeddah.
Saudia Private Aviation (SPA), the business jet arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, is seeing increased interest from businesses in the Kingdom in acquiring new aircraft, as it prepared to open the country’s largest FBO in Jeddah. “SPA’s operations will grow 100 percent year-on-year this year,” said SPA CEO Wajdi Al Idrissi. “The government is spending the money and there is no decline in growth. In Saudi Arabia, private aviation is growing at 15 to 20 percent a year.”
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