Switzerland-based aircraft management, charter, and completions specialist, Comlux Aviation (Static Display) has broken ground on a hangar in Dubai that is expected to open late next year. The company signed an agreement for the land with the government entity Dubai South during the 2021 Dubai Airshow. The building will be more than 7,000 sq m, including 5,000 sq m of hangar space, 750 sq m in back shops, and 1,500 sq m for office space and showrooms.
“This will give us another location to provide light maintenance services, light cabin works, and aircraft management,” executive chairman Richard Gaona told AIN. “It’s another brick in the Comlux wall.”
The Middle East has become an important part of Comlux’s development, putting it close to many charter clients in the region and in Africa. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE are all seen as important countries for business aviation, from where Gaona expects new opportunities to emanate.
Comlux operates from diverse locations—Zurich, the U.S., Dubai, Kazakhstan, and Hong Kong. “We have to be flexible. It’s the advantage of being a small company,” Gaona said. “Our vision at Comlux is to exist in two or three different global locations where business is good. If a problem comes up in one place, we can still continue to exist and grow elsewhere. That’s been the strategy from day one. It’s all about diversification of products and services and of geographical locations.”
Dubai Al Maktoum International (OMDW) is more than an airport, Gaona said. “Today, it is a business center where you can find every kind of nationality. Serving our private jet clients based in the region is important.
“We have a commercial office at OMDW’s VIP terminal to welcome our clients when they arrive, but we don’t do FBOs. We offer mainly aircraft sales and charter sales; in the future, once we have the hangar, it’s clear that our development and presence in Dubai is going to increase.”
He believes the focus on OMDW, as the main airport for Dubai, is increasing. “Business leaders at Dubai South are doing everything they can to create a maintenance hub there,” he said. “I don’t want to promote my competitors, but everyone is trying to open their own facility. Comlux will be a service provider there.”
But looking at the larger Middle East region, Gaona is unclear about the current state of the Saudi Arabian market. “There are several development initiatives in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I hope the kingdom becomes a location for doing more business, transactions, maintenance, and completions.”
From its commercial office at the VIP Terminal at OMDW, Comlux is well positioned to do business in Dubai, but also Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and even Israel, he believes. “Over the last two years, I’ve seen more people from Israel conducting business in Dubai. Who would have thought that this would’ve happened? Sometimes, a small political decision in a country can open business up.”
ACJ TwoTwenty Delivery
Meanwhile, Gaona expects the first ACJ TwoTwenty the company is completing at its Indianapolis, Indiana facility to be delivered on schedule to client Five Hotels & Resorts next month. With plans to complete up to 16 of the Airbus bizliners, he is bullish on the ACJ TwoTwenty’s prospects.
“Once the ACJ TwoTwenty enters service and we show it to clients, I’m convinced the program will get a big boost,” he said. “It is much cheaper than the ACJ319 or BBJ Max, and about the same price as a [Bombardier] Global or Gulfstream. Those who can afford Boeing and Airbus will continue to take the big [aircraft], but those who are flying top-end business jet products may decide to take one, as it’s the same budget with a wider cabin.”
That could make the ACJ TwoTwenty very successful. “We will not win market share against the top-end products but grow it from the bottom. Every time I hear a traditional business jet OEM is developing a bigger plane, I’m extremely happy because it means they are starting to compete with us on cabin size. We are a solid and loyal partner of Airbus on the ACJ TwoTwenty, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation.”
However, Gaona said Comlux could not continue to exist with work from only one OEM. “We work with several to ensure customer satisfaction. In the end, it is the client who chooses the aircraft,” he said. “That’s why we operate Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and Embraer aircraft; we are a completion center and service center for Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets, and we sell various aircraft types when a request comes in.”
This week at MEBAA 2022, Comlux is displaying its BBJ767-200ER SkyLady. “We refurbished the cabin during Covid in Indianapolis, but up until now we have not yet had the chance to put it on display,” he said.