GI Aviation, the Abu Dhabi-based charter company, is celebrating its newly granted aircraft operator’s certificate (AOC) from the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The operator is hoping to revolutionize business aviation in the UAE with Pilatus PC-12NG single-engine turboprops.
Operating single-engine turboprops commercially under instrument weather conditions is becoming increasingly acceptable worldwide—and popular—largely attributed to the outstanding reliability of modern engines, avionics and systems. Equally important is the low-cost of operation, when compared with multi-engine jets—especially the large, long-range jets that make up so much of the Middle East fleet.
Her Excellency Hafsa Al Ulama, managing director of GI Aviation parent company Global Ideas, said, “Our team have been working had this past year to deliver a brand new entry-level service for business aviation in this region, which has, until now, been dominated by larger business jets. We have received significant interest from a number of parties who are keen to fly with us.”
GI Aviation (Stand 692) accepted its first PC-12 in the spring, and plans to take delivery of a second in January. The large-cabin aircraft have custom-designed interiors by BMW DesignWorks.
GI CEO Marios Belidis expects charter flights to launch as early as next week with the first PC12-NG based at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi. “We are able to serve all the major business and capital cities within the GCC and surrounding region and will also serve popular resort destination like Sir Bani Yas, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah,” he said. “We will, on certain short-distance city pairs, serve as a real alternative to flying first- and business class. Our focus is to ensure that we provide a time- and cost-effective service which is responsive to clients’ itineraries and requirements, while maintaining the highest standards of quality and safety in our operation.”
The initiative is backed by the experience and support of Finland-based Hendell Aviation, which has operated a similar service with PC-12s in its home country since 2013—the first such service to receive EASA approval. Hendell’s chairman Matti Auterinen, who served as a consultant in the development of the GI Aviation operation, said, “The GCAA regulations and requirements closely follow EASA with key differences adapted for the UAE and the region. The very professional framework established in the UAE by authority is strict, but fair.”
Very supportive of the effort by GI Aviation to “right size” the market, MEBAA founding chairman Ali Alnaqbi has asserted that fully 70 percent of aircraft available on charter in the regional market are large-size aircraft largely that are not really suited to actual business needs. “MEBAA is calling on its members to strategically invest in light jets [and other] small aircraft. The market is losing a big segment of business. Paying $10,000 for an hour-long flight to Bahrain is too much. This is what we have been trying to get across,” he said.