ExecuJet is poised to begin construction of its new Middle East headquarters facility at Dubai World Central’s Dubai South area. The Luxaviation subsidiary (Stand 598) recently finalized contracts with the airport authority on three plots of land, totaling approximately 5.5 acres (22,558 sq m), where it plans to build a new, more-than-$30 million FBO and MRO complex.
Since the opening of the new airport, business aviation companies have been either relocating their facilities, or in the case of ExecuJet, which has long had a presence in Dubai, establishing additional facilities.
“Dubai South is coming along very nicely as the new home of general aviation,” said Michael Berry, ExecuJet’s president of aviation services and vice president for the company’s Middle East operations. “Ultimately I think the plans still remain that all general aviation traffic will migrate from Dubai International Airport to Dubai South. Presently, the company has a stand-alone temporary FBO at Dubai South with a 5,000-sq-ft (465-sq-m) terminal.
According to Berry, the company is finalizing the designs and expects to break ground in the first quarter of 2019 on the new complex, which will feature a terminal more than four times the size of the one it will replace. It will offer full customs and immigration on site, with several private lounges, common lobby, crew rest areas with sleeping pods, and prayer rooms, among other amenities. The company also plans for a 108,000-sq-ft (10,000-sq-m) hangar for maintenance and aircraft storage, which will boost its available space at both airports by 50 percent as its thriving MRO business relocates to Dubai South.
As for the existing FBO at Dubai International, Berry stated that the company hopes to keep it active, if at lesser capacity. “We are ever hopeful that we can keep some sort of presence on Dubai International in the future, but time will tell whether that’s going to be achievable or not,” he told AIN.
After several years of slow but steady growth in the region, traffic over the past year has been down, Berry noted, corresponding with the launch of an anti-corruption program in Saudi Arabia. “With the corruption clean-up, a lot of aircraft owners' aircraft were grounded, in some respects impounded until they had cleared themselves with the authorities,” he said. “We saw in Dubai a drop-off of about 30 percent of the traffic visiting our FBO, and this is purely down to Saudi operators and Saudi traffic that used to come into the region that just stopped overnight.”
He explained that on many of those grounded aircraft, maintenance had been postponed. “Whilst its hurt business in the short term, for MROs there’re obviously opportunities as those aircraft get released back into service.” Another concern that has stifled business aviation growth is the region’s continuing geopolitical difficulties. “We hope that the Qatar political stand-off gets resolved and traffic flows freely between Qatar and the UAE again, and we really hope that by mid-2019 [reentry to service of] all those aircraft that have been grounded and need to be released back into service from Saudi Arabia will be happening.”