Dubai-based management, FBO, and MRO specialist DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF) reported high hangar occupancy levels at its Al Maktoum International Airport (OMDW) facility and expects operating conditions to further improve in 2023.
“There is a careful consensus that any likely repercussions of inflation would not hit the region or the UAE or, at least, at a lesser rate than may be the case in Europe and in other parts of the Western world,” DCAF managing director Holger Ostheimer told AIN. “People seem to be quite upbeat looking into 2023. We’ve outperformed our forecast for FBO movement numbers for 2022 throughout the year, month-on-month.”
Established in 2013, DCAF is one of five FBO players at OMDW and, to date, remains the only one to offer a standalone facility. The three other FBO providers currently at the airport—Jetex, Jet Aviation, and Falcon Aviation—share the VIP terminal, while ExecuJet’s separate FBO/MRO building is not expected to replace an interim facility until early next year.
In 2007, Stuttgart-based DC Aviationemerged from DaimlerChrysler Aviation, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler established in 1998. It also offers services in Munich and Malta and claims to be the largest operator of business jets in Germany and one of the largest in Europe. Earlier this year, it opened a new hangar at Munich Oberpfaffenhofen Airport.
DCAF’s two hangars at DWC are an attractive MRO option for the market. “They are utilized at very high levels. That has always been the case for Hangar 1. Since adding Hangar 2, for a long time, we stood at about two-thirds utilization,” Ostheimer said.
“This year, we can report that we’ve been almost full for most of the year at capacity use in excess of 90 percent-95 percent. We accommodate managed aircraft. We maintain third-party and managed aircraft, and we have aircraft from outside that are parking only.”
In terms of MRO accreditations, DCAF plans to add the Bombardier Global 7500 to its operation. “We will definitely be providing maintenance capabilities for that aircraft,” he said. “In recent years, we have incorporated a new complement of management staff on the maintenance side, with Stephen McAteer, our director of maintenance, and Chris Rosewarne, as head of the Part 145 operation. We continue to extend our capabilities, from tire shops to battery shops, in terms of increasing aircraft types.”
Meanwhile, DCAF’s managed fleet has increased to nine aircraft. “We’ve added an ACJ318, which has been with us for some time,” Ostheimer said. “We’ve added another Global and an aircraft that I cannot identify. The core fleet remains Bombardier Challengers and Globals, and Dassault Falcons. We’ve also added a Falcon 900 to the operation.”
Ostheimer was quizzical about the claims of FBO competitor Jetex to handle three-quarters of the movements at OMDW. “DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, with its standalone facility at the entrance of MBR (Mohammed bin Rashid) Aerospace Hub, closest to the runway system, is not part of the airport’s VIP terminal. And without officially published numbers, it is hard to say” which FBO provider has the highest market share, he said.
On a wider issue, market participants have voiced criticism of the lack of official transparency regarding business aviation operations at Dubai’s airports. AIN asked Ostheimer if in future years DWC-Dubai South would ever start publishing private and business jet movement data. “I would very much welcome it,” he said. “We’ve asked for that for many years. We’ve asked the General Civil Aviation Authority [GCAA], MEBAA, and Dubai South—those numbers are not publicly available.”
Outside of the Middle East region, DC Aviation has won a ground handling license for France’s Nice Airport. “Obviously, we are very happy at the fact that our application has been considered a strong bid,” he said. “We are constantly being approached about activities outside the region. That does not necessarily restrict us to our domain here in the GCC, which is responsible for the joint venture here. DC Aviation Group is going to increase its activities to Nice, in corporation with G-OPS, with whom we have entered into a joint venture.”
Before the award, there were three handling agents at Nice: Aviapartner, Signature, and Swissport. DC Aviation, in a bid submitted with G-OPS, won the Nice tender in September. “Swissport has been replaced by DC Aviation/G-OPS,” he said. “Now, the FBO operators at Nice will be Aviapartner, Signature, and DC Aviation/G-OPS.”
For the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, DCAF has made aircraft capacity available for the inquiries it is receiving. “However, the operation of flights in and out of Doha is quite cumbersome, and the cost element is a little unclear,” he said. “To be able to cover all the regulatory and operational requirements, we have to have a clearer picture of what the actual cost is going to be. We are careful in accepting requests until we know the extent of operations we will face to carry out these double rotations.”
Ostheimer said he was “carefully optimistic” about next year. “The influx of wealth seems to be stabilizing our level of activity; a lot hinges on the global economic climate,” he said. “Market and infrastructure development needs to be carefully studied so that we don’t once again end up with an oversupply of service providers in hangar and other capacities.”