Over the past few years executive charter brokers complained that there were not enough suitable aircraft available in the Middle East to meet the spiraling demand for private flying. But with each passing month, more new jets are flocking to this part of the world, boosting the fleets of local operators and correcting the supply/demand imbalance.
The strong growth of the Middle East market for business aviation will be evident at the second Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) expo next month. The three-day event, to be staged at Dubai’s Airport Expo Center from November 16 to 18, is projected to grow to twice the size of the first stand-alone MEBA show held over two days in January 2007.
Germany’s DC Aviation, in a bid to become Europe’s largest operator of private jets, last month took delivery of a new Gulfstream G450, bringing its fleet to 31 business jets, ranging from the Learjet to the Airbus A319 ACJ. Delivery of the G450 follows the Stuttgart-based company’s May announcement that three Airbus A319 ACJs will join the fleet within 12 months. A total of 12 new aircraft will be added to the fleet this year.
United Arab Emirates-based charter operator Royal Jet last month received the first Gulfstream 300, a shorter-range, less expensive version of the G400 (the former GIV-SP). A second G300 is also destined this month for Royal Jet, which has outfitted the aircraft to perform two types of mission: one for executive charter and the other for aeromedical transport.
Abu Dhabi-based executive charter operator Royal Jet plans to double the size of its fleet by 2013, which will mark the fast-growing operator’s 10th anniversary. By then it expects to have two dozen aircraft and predicts that the total will reach 50 by 2020. Annual revenues are projected to reach $500 million within five years.
United Arab Emirates-based Prestige Jet has signed an agreement to provide EMS flights for Flight Ambulance International (FAI). The company will operate a fleet of Bombardier Learjet 55s from bases in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. FAI is based in Nuremberg, Germany, and provides evacuation flights out of Africa. The Middle East is a growing part of its business, already accounting for 8 percent of operations.
Two years after 9/11, Dubai’s biennial air show will declare itself to be firmly back to business as usual when it opens next month (December 7 to 11) in the United Arab Emirates. Last time, the event convincingly put on a brave face in the wake of 9/11 and the U.S.-led war against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan (just 500 miles north).
Abu Dhabi’s Prestige Jet (Stand E322), a year-old business aircraft charter and management service, sees growth in the private air travel market fueling its need for more aircraft.
Currently using Bombardier Challenger 601/604 and Gulfstream III large business jets, the company has two Grob SPn light business jets on order for delivery next year, and may announce more orders here at the Dubai Air Show.
The impressive growth of business aviation in the Middle East hasn’t excluded the region’s executive charter companies, some of which have been enjoying their most lucrative stretch ever. Awash in available capital, they’ve not only added equipment and new markets, they’ve begun expanding into related businesses such as FBOs and maintenance services.
Too few business aircraft are based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Arabian Gulf states to meet rising demand for executive charter flights, according to International Air Charter (IAC), a UK-based charter brokering group that opened an office in Dubai two years ago. The company is urging charter operators to move aircraft into the region to increase capacity and stimulate further demand.