Major orders for airliners and their engines once again raised the profile of the biennial Dubai Air Show, held December 7 to 11. The bulk of the $6 billion sales announced during the event were accounted for by a $1.5 billion order by Emirates Airline for 101 Engine Alliance GP7200 turbofans to power 23 of its Airbus A380s.
The stereotypical business aircraft in the Middle East is a widebody airliner converted to money-no-object specifications for an omnipotent sheikh. While there are still plenty of lavish VIP and head-of-state transports fitting this description, business aviation in this region appears to be evolving to become more business-like, pragmatic and functional.
Around 80 exhibitors have committed to participating in the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference and exhibition to be held in Dubai from January 31 to February 1. According to organizers, the show–to be staged at the Airport Expo Dubai site at Dubai International Airport–will also feature at least 30 aircraft on display.
Demonstrating that Boeing and Airbus aren’t the only bitter rivals in the aerospace schoolyard, Bombardier yesterday issued a public challenge to Gulfstream by proposing the two commit to the idea of holding a race.
Abu Dhabi-based private charter operator Royal Jet has added two aircraft to its Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) fleet. The carrier, which began operations in May 2003, now owns and operates seven of the type. The two newly acquired Boeing 737 derivatives feature head-of-state standard cabin layout.
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.