Business jet operators will benefit from a move to from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Al Maktoum International (DWC), as the latter facility becomes the focus in the Middle East hub, according to Dubai-based UAS International Trip Support.
“Business in general in Dubai is going very well,” Omar Hosari, co-owner, founder, and CEO told AIN. “It's not as big as it used to be, last year, but we don't see a risk of further reduction. Things are very stable. The government is providing support for general aviation. At a recent Civil Aviation Authority meeting in Dubai, they came up with initiatives and new regulations to make things easier for civil aviation to operate between countries here in the Middle East.
“The DWC VIP Terminal is very luxurious. We see comments from the celebrities and VIPs passing through. They are astonished at what they see, not from a terms-of-service point of view, so much as from the appearance of the general aviation hall and the FBOs available there. If I were a private jet owner, I would demand to land in DWC, not at Dubai International.”
Some owners might still want to land at DXB, where UAS’s head office is located, or in nearby Sharjah, he said, but the majority of the traffic is now going to DWC, particularly with the approach of the Expo 2020 event that will be held there next October.
“In my opinion, more than 90 percent of [business aircraft] flights are going to DWC,” he said. “It's more convenient. You don't need a slot to go there. Here at DXB, it's always congested. You could have a problem. Operators would rather fly out of a location they can use whenever they want, not to mention the VIP treatment. The infrastructure, not only of the airport, is good, too, including the roads into town. They are developing the whole Dubai South area. It is going to be a city within a city by 2020.”
Optimism for the Middle East and Africa
UAS is bullish on the Middle East. “We have a lot of confidence in aviation in this region. When they were receiving [over 40 new] aircraft [deliveries] a year, the region was peaking. I think things are rationalizing now. I don't know about the statistics, but 10 [new] aircraft [deliveries] a year sounds like a reasonable number for this region.”
Hosari is also optimistic about the Saudi market. “We’re seeing positive signs, after a period of uncertainty,” he said. “The first Saudi Airshow has definitely set new expectations for its business aviation market. It’s a market with large untapped potential and it has always been in our priorities.”
He said UAS’s business in Africa is going well. “We have a one-guy operation in every country we are in,” he said. “There are more than 15 people available in 15 countries. They are all managed by our Johannesburg headquarters. Business is growing.
“In Africa, we have substantial traffic. In these 15 countries, we're handling more than 100 movements a month. Clients might be using existing FBOs, but they still need somebody from UAS to supervise the process. These flights are coming to Africa from all over the world—from the U.S., Europe, and China.”
UAS has close relations to the China market through its ties to Deer Jet, which bought a majority stake in the Dubai-based company in late 2016. “Everybody is trying to invest in Africa. China's Belt and Road Initiative goes through Africa. Last year, at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, China announced it would be providing $60 billion in financial support to Africa. We see Chinese, Turkish, French, British, and Dutch operators going into Africa. Mostly, they are industrial company executives flying in.
“Nigeria and South Africa are incredibly strong, and Rwanda is growing really rapidly. I was surprised to see that, recently, they launched their first satellite—this country [was] at civil war only recently. I think they are on the right track.”
UAS is also watching mature markets closely. “Currently, we do the usual trip support services for our European and U.S. clients. Business is increasing, especially with our new products: UAS Link Evolution and UAS Flight Evolution.”
Hosari said the U.S. market displays different dynamics than elsewhere, with the company’s focus there on trip support and technology. “The dynamics and requirements of clients in the U.S. are totally different from those in the Middle East and Europe,” he said. “They have a more do-it-yourself attitude and therefore are very demanding when it comes to technology.
“That's why our technology development headquarters is in the U.S., [and] why we’re continuously developing our client portal UAS TMSevolution. This is all being handled from the U.S. We've been in the U.S. for more than seven years. The U.S. office supports the South American client base as well.”