Dubai-based international FBO operator Jetex saw business grow 150 percent at its business aircraft terminal at Dubai South in the second half of 2020 and hopes to launch three new facilities in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 18 months. “Business is growing; due to COVID, people [are looking] to private aviation,” Jetex founder and CEO Adel Mardini told AIN. “It’s a solution. Private aviation used to be an accessory. Now, it’s a necessity.”
Mardini said on some days, Jetex has had 80 to 90 daily movements with an average of five passengers per aircraft. On January 10, for example, Jetex handled 85 flights. “Usually, we do 25 to 30,” he said. “I expect in December 2021 to have more than 1,200 flights, which is good business.”
In September, he hypothesized to AIN that three out of 10 flights taken by Middle East-based first-class airline passengers were migrating to business jets, but claimed this trend was growing. “Sometimes, five out of 10 trips will be on business jets,” he said. “It depends. When people fly private, especially for the first time, they [continue]. I don’t see them going back to commercial.”
The exception to that is the effects of the UAE-Israel peace deal, which led to a sudden upsurge in commercial traffic. “We have had a few Israelis pass through the Dubai FBO,” he said. “After the launch of commercial flights, we don’t see them anymore.” Mardini added that there are 50 commercial flights a week between Israel and the UAE.
Besides Jetex, Dubai’s FBOs include Jet Aviation, DC Aviation Al Futtaim, and ExecuJet. Falcon Aviation handed over management of its VIP Terminal FBO to Jetex, which has a new designation, he said.
“Falcon’s FBO is now managed by us as a crew lounge. We signed an agreement in November to manage their facility. The FBO and the hangar at Dubai South will be under our management. We now [operate] three lounges: our two, plus Falcon’s. We are now managing 75 percent of the entire VIP facility. In Dubai South, we have 34,000 square feet of lounges, making it the biggest such facility in the world.”
This year, Mardini is looking to expand Jetex’s Asia-Pacific footprint, a region where he said he was negotiating for three new facilities. Jetex opened a new FBO in Singapore in October, after signing a deal with Bombardier Aerospace Services Singapore.
The Singapore FBO—Jetex’s 33rd—is another marquee site to add to its FBOs in Paris, Dubai, and Marrakech. “It’s the first flagship in Seletar Airport. Business jets there…did almost 10,000 flights in 2019,” he said.
Under Jetex’s partnership agreement with Bombardier at Seletar, Jetex will handle any aircraft coming to Bombardier’s MRO or Singapore in general. “My target is 30 percent market share this year, and I’m sure I will get it,” Mardini said. “I have very solid communications with all the operators. Once the market opens, they will shift to us.”
The timing of its FBO at Seletar is ideal, he noted, with organizers of the World Economic Forum moving the event this year from Zurich to Singapore. “This is the first time in Davos’s lifetime that the event will take place outside Switzerland,” Mardini explained. “We hope to handle [a third] of the movements at the event.”
In other developments at Jetex, the company’s proprietary Global Trip Management (GTM) software is now fully operational. Mardini said Jetex had many clients and more than 400 aircraft on call. Some 80 percent of its business is charter, although it also has major owner-operator clients in smaller numbers.
“I will have a solid [GTM] system by the end of this year,” he said. “It will be a solution for any operational inquiry. As a Global Jet, Jet Aviation, VistaJet, or NetJets salesperson, once you book a flight, you log it in our system. I want these companies to outsource their operations to us, to depend on us.” He added that VistaJet is exclusive to Jetex in all locations where his company has FBOs. “We have a good relationship with VistaJet, and mutual support is strong.”