Manufacturers and analysts agree that recent years have seen a vigorous increase in business aircraft operations in the Middle East and that the region is generating strong demand, even with other parts of the global economy stalled. However, detailed projections of this growth and the size of the current and predicted future fleets vary.
United Arab Emirates
The fourth Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show is off to a strong start, with exhibitor numbers climbing more than 40 percent from 2008 and registered visitors topping the 7,000 mark, up from 5,500. But this could be the show's last staging here in Dubai for the time being, with plans being made to relocate the event to another prime location in the Arabian Gulf.
This AIN editor had an opportunity to tour Emirates/CAE Flight Training Center in Dubai. I was quickly impressed not simply with the size of the center, but also the pristine nature of the entire facility, a location that appears to have thought of almost every possible customer comfort, from snacks and drinks for crewmembers, no matter when their classes might operate, to limousine services to carry customers to and from their hotels.
Al Bateen Executive Airport (Stand C600) handled nearly 100 private aircraft movements during the recent Ethiad Airways Formula 1 Grand Prix in mid-November. While the peak traffic days were November 13 and 14 overall traffic increased 17 percent when compared with the number of aircraft handled during the 2009 race. Aircraft as large as a VIP Boeing 757 landed at Al Bateen, a former military airbase.
European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters.
Cargo traffic began operations at Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International Airport in late June, marking the opening of Dubai’s second airport. Operations
at the airport, which planners say will eventually become the world’s largest,
will initially be confined to cargo hauling.
Passenger traffic, for which the airport has an initial capacity of five million people a year, will begin next March.
A new sales and marketing office has been opened in Dubai by Chromalloy to provide parts and services for the region’s gas turbine engine operators. “Chromalloy is expanding our engine aftermarket business to offer the region’s turbine operators parts, repairs and other services that deliver significant cost savings over original equipment manufacturer pricing,” said company president Armand Lauzon Jr.
Al Bateen Executive, the Gulf region’s first dedicated private aviation airport, reported a 30-percent increase in aircraft movements in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. The airport is located minutes from the city center of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Gama Aviation (Booth No. 141) reached an important milestone in its global expansion plan by gaining an air operator’s certificate from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in February. The UK-based group secured the AOC in barely six months, having applied for it in June 2009. It operates from a new base at Sharjah International Airport and has a sales office in Dubai.
Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Aabar Investments is investing a further $20 million in charter provider XOJet. The move came just four months after XOJet secured $470 million in additional funding from a group led by TPG, a Fort Worth-based private equity firm, and Aabar. Meanwhile, Aabar and XOjet said they plan to form a joint venture in the UAE to provide aviation services in the Middle East and North Africa.