As the MEBAA Show makes its triumphant return after a Covid-induced pause, business aviation activity in the Middle East region has been riding the same post-pandemic surge seen in other regions, according to World Fuel Services (Booth 1120).
“The Middle East came out of Covid more quickly than Europe,” said James Hardacre, the U.S.-based company’s v-p of business aviation sales for Europe and the Middle East. “It was quicker to start the bounce [back] and it looks like the bounce is lasting longer in the Middle East when I compare it to Europe at least.”
He noted that while growth in some regions is showing signs of slowing down, the Middle East is continuing to show strength. “Year-to-date just versus last year alone, Middle East departure activity is up around 15 percent, and that’s on 2021 which was a solid year in itself,” he explained. “Generally, the Middle East has been pretty similarly aligned to the European market for [business and general aviation] in terms of growth, but it's actually outgrown Europe this year.”
Hardacre added that while charter activity drove the initial post-pandemic growth, that paradigm has shifted. “You are starting to see the slowdown across the aircraft management and charter side of the business,” he told AIN. “In terms of longevity, whereas charter has started to dip, private and corporate is stronger presently.”
The company is able to take a wide view of the local market due to its presence at more than 1,000 locations throughout the region. “I would be quite comfortable to say we supply almost every airport where there is a material fuel demand across the board,” said Riyan Qirbi, World Fuel’s director of market development for the region. “The two points that we try to focus on: are we reliable in terms of our supply and is the fuel being supplied to a very high standard and according to the best international practices?”
While World Fuel does not provide actual fuel handling for its customers, it serves a vital role in making sure they are able to operate throughout the region. “We’re able to basically operate on what we call a back-to-back basis, so we arrange fuel supply for our customers and we deal with the entire interface with the supplier who actually does the into-plane part for the customer,” said Qirbi.
This week at MEBAA 2022, the company is sharing its exhibit stand with UK-based Harrods Aviation, which is a member of the World Fuel-sponsored Air Elite network of global upscale FBOs. Harrods operates facilities at London Luton and Stansted airports.
“They’ll tell their story of how they fit in with what we’re doing,” explained Peter Stevens, the Miami-based fuel provider’s v-p of global marketing for aviation and marine. “This is part of the value we provide to the [FBO] locations that we have is taking their message forward and helping them present it to bigger audiences.”