The Middle East region is waking up to business aircraft financing, it emerged at the inaugural Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference here at the Dubai airshow on Saturday. As recently as five years ago, it was difficult to find funds to buy business jets, but it is now much easier to convince a bank, a local charter operator said. In addition, so-called Sukuk Islamic bonds may soon become available to aircraft customers.
Dubai International Airport now has not one but two purpose-built support facilities for business aviation, both located in the duty free zone on the other side of the runway from the airshow. The new Jet Aviation FBO has been operational since May, and will be formally opened at a ceremony here this evening. The new Bombardier/ExecuJet Aviation facility was inaugurated yesterday and began operations just this month.
Abu Dhabi-based business aircraft operator Royal Jet yesterday signed up as an operator for Bombardier’s Skyjet International fixed-rate charter service. Customers will have access to Royal Jet’s newly delivered Challenger 300 business jet and to the rest of its fleet if it is not available. In the future, any new a Bombardier business aircraft added to Royal Jet’s fleet will become part of Skyjet.
The rapid growth of Abu Dhabi-based executive charter group Royal Jet paints a vivid illustration of the pace of business aviation expansion in the Middle East. The company started life just two years ago with a single Boeing Business Jet and its fleet has since grown by three more BBJs, two Gulfstream 300s and a Bombardier Challenger 300.
Lufthansa Technik (Booth No. 744) is continuing to expand both the geographical reach and the range of its support services for VIP and corporate customers. It plans a new joint venture in Abu Dhabi, a growing customer list for its Platinet service and a new service, Integrated Maintenance Support (IMS), designed to relieve operators of regulatory paperwork headaches.
After several months of talks following a few years of incubation, six founding members have formed an association to further the interests of business aviation in the Middle East. Aptly named the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), the new not-for-profit organization, which is incorporated in Dubai, elected li Ahmed Al Naqbi, vice president of finance and administration for Abu Dhabi-based Amiri Flight, its first chairman.
The “tentative” dates for the new Middle East Business Aviation Association’s planned regional convention are tentative no more.
Dubai’s ambitions for its biennial airshow seem to know no limits. Organizers will stage this year’s event in a purpose-built exhibition site at Dubai International
A decade ago, any discussion of the private aircraft market in the Middle East was generally limited to members of the royal families as customers, and the airplanes were for the most part executive/VIP versions of widebody airliners.
The first Middle East Business Aviation Conference (MEBA) is to be held in Dubai on November 19, on the eve of the Dubai Air Show (November 20 to 24). The event is a response to rising levels of interest in business aircraft from a widening prospective client base throughout the region.