The scale and impact of the MEBA 2008 show must have removed any remaining doubts that today the Middle East is business aviation’s hottest marketplace.
Real Executive is to start a new venture in the United Arab Emirates based at the City Airport Abu Dhabi. There it will be partnered with Elite Aviation and initially draw on the existing fleet comprising a Challenger 601 and Falcon 900EX Easy. These will shortly be joined by a Global Express and Gulfstream 200 and there are plans to add a Gulfstream 150 in January.
Although there was some expectation that VIP charter operator Royal Jet of Abu Dhabi would announce new firm orders for aircraft here at MEBA, Shane O’Hare, president and CEO, said yesterday that the company expects to make acquisitions in possibly six to 12 months.
Here at the MEBA show, Royal Jet is expected to announce plans to further increase its fleet. The Abu Dhabi-based company is likely to commit to more aircraft in both the VIP airliner and super-midsize classes. It may also confirm plans to establish one or more new bases in the Gulf region to address a shortage of FBO and maintenance facilities, as well as introducing other new services.
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.