Qatar Airways’s colorful CEO, Akbar Al Baker, has made a name for himself at the helm of one of the Arabian Gulf region’s trio of fast-growing airlines. But alongside his United Arab Emirates rivals Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways he can claim an additional string to his bow that the other two have so far overlooked: the creation of an executive jet division.
Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a leading business aviation hub in the Arabian Gulf was further enhanced by the March staging of the inaugural Air Expo. The event, held at the Al Bateen Executive Airport nine months before rival Dubai’s Middle East Business Aviation show, attracted a reported 10,700 visitors and 105 exhibitors.
The government of Iraq has requested a second batch of 18 Lockheed Martin F-16IQs to help rebuild its air force as the final U.S. troops withdraw from the country after nearly nine years of occupation. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible foreign military sale on December 12, a day that saw President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appear together in Washington, D.C., to mark the imminent end of the Iraq conflict.
ExecuJet Middle East has sent a letter of intent to enter into a service agreement with Gal Mena, a joint venture formed between Gal Aviation, a member of the Gal Group of companies in Canada, and Mena Aerospace Enterprises of the Kingdom of Bahrain. ExecuJet Middle East is expanding offerings by joining forces with Gal Mena to deliver all-inclusive cabin interior service.
Civilian aviation regulation has effectively been removed from the control of the Saudi Arabian defense ministry following the death of former crown prince and defense minister, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, in October.
VistaJet is committing three new long-range aircraft to the Middle East market, with an order for a pair of Bombardier Challenger 850 business jets and a Global 5000. Chairman and founder Thomas Flohr said the company is seeing strong demand for its flexible-use programs from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He believes that by the end of 2012 the Middle East will account for 15 percent of VistaJet revenues.
The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Sakhir Airbase is set to host its second Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS) early next year (Jan. 19-21, 2012). As of press time, the event was almost completely sold out in terms of exhibit space with just one remaining chalet unit available.
Politicians viewing air transport as a soft target are the greatest threat to the air transport industry, according to the secretary general of the Arab Air Carriers Organization.
The ambitious development plan to expand Oman’s Muscat Airport has been accelerated with the Oman Airport Management Co. advancing the opening date to October 2014. The project had run into delays after tropical cyclone Gonu in 2007, which led to the decision to remove basements and underground areas, resulting in a complete redesign.
The Israeli ministry of tourism announced plans for the construction of a new international airport scheduled to open in 2014. Located in Timna, near the southern seaside resort town of Eilat, the new $422 million facility will replace two existing airports in the region and will offer a light rail system directly into Eilat.