Dubai-based charter and aircraft broker RightJet is making a name for itself as a regional business aviation services specialist with a canny emphasis on optimizing pricing.
“We’ve had to be dynamic and agile in 2022,” CEO Mark Hardman told AIN. “I see 2023 as a good year for the industry—and the same with 2024 and 2025, despite the slowing of economies. That’s because of some of the challenges that exist elsewhere in the travel industry—connectivity with the airlines and service levels at airports. The good thing is all the new clients coming into the market.”
RightJet (Stand 829), which was established early last year, is purely and simply a broker, he maintained.
“We offer value-added expertise all the way through the process, based on 35 years of experience,” he said. “We have five revenue streams: principally charter, closely followed by aircraft sales, consultancy, leasing, and management services. These are very bespoke. It’s been quite interesting, quite a journey. We set up the business in January 2021, right in the middle of the pandemic. As international borders have reopened, there’s been great opportunity.”
Hardman claims that RightJet is the only UAE-based charter brokerage to be exhibiting this week at MEBAA 2022. “For me, it was, really, not a big decision, given MEBAA’s refocus and support to bring in end users. The MEBAA Show allows us to meet the community again and new clients. For us, the show is not about size or footfall, it’s about quality.”
He said the number of brokers in Dubai was difficult to count but likely sizeable. “In my opinion, we have reached critical mass,” he said. “At a guess, the number stands at over 30—and is possibly double that if we include those who work from a briefcase.”
Charter availability very much depended on the owner behind the aircraft. “Obviously, there’s quite a number of operators that own aircraft here in the Middle East,” Hardman said. “However, globally, most operators don’t own their own aircraft. There are a few exceptions, obviously; however, most private jets are owned by individuals or corporations, and then they have the management company looking after them.”
He said charter availability also depended on country, as well as operator and fleet. Some operators had 70 percent or more of their fleet available for charter, while others gave access to only 10 percent.
“This is in Dubai. As an average across the region, I would suggest it’s probably 70/30—about 70 percent are not available for charter, while about 30 percent are,” Hardman said. “Again, in the region, this varies by airport and you then define which aircraft are actually semi-based here. This raises another question: if you were to go out to Al Maktoum International Airport, for example, you’d probably find a very different mix, with maybe 60 percent of the aircraft there available for charter, or maybe even more than that.”
As seen by other brokers, new market entrants have helped drive demand over the summer. “Supply has been a challenge on the charter side, as well as on the acquisition side,” he explained. “I do see a little bit of a softening of the markets, maybe due to economies around the world slowing down, and the U.S. tax regime changing a little at the end of the year for new aircraft, from 100 percent depreciation to 80 percent. We are still going to see strong demand because of new users.”
In terms of preowned aircraft, he said the market was global. He has seen aircraft come out of a number of countries. Earlier this year, and in the latter part of 2021, demand outstripped supply five to one.
“That has changed,” he said. “There’s maybe now two or three buyers for every seller. There’s that challenge on the preowned side. Being a broker, we’re not tied to one market: we can look globally and we do that to make sure we get the client the right aircraft at the right price. We know pricing has been interesting given demand. In terms of the OEMs, we’ve been working closely with a number of them, including Gulfstream. We’ve managed to secure new aircraft for clients, even for as early as 2023.”
Given that there were some older aircraft about, he identified is a trend in the market, including the Middle East, to look at newer aircraft, new interiors, and new airframes. “The idea that new aircraft are being bought is good for the market as a whole,” he said. “Charter clients are going to pick up on that. In terms of charter, it’s a little bit of an aging fleet in the region. I welcome any new aircraft coming in.”
To meet client requests, RightJet has sold Bombardier Challenger 605s, and Gulfstream G550s, G650ERs, and G700s in the last 12 months. In terms of the G650ER versus G700, there is a pricing differential between the two, and also on delivery dates.
“Both are amazing aircraft,” he said. “I have extensive experience with Gulfstream products at previous companies, and much depends on what the client’s looking for. If you look at the individual attributes of each aircraft, the G700 is coming into service in the first part of 2023. The launch customer is Qatar Executive. It’s a great aircraft, that’s for sure. The pricing point is around $10 million more than the G650ER. If it’s purely a question of range, there’s not much in it.”