“There's a shortage of charter aircraft in the [Saudi Arabian] market,” said Fahad Al Jarboa, CEO of Saudia Private Aviation (SPA), who was the second-day MEBAA Show keynote speaker. He described SPA's ambitions for growth, including plans to wet lease up to six business aircraft in the coming months to meet the burgeoning demand for domestic and international charter in Saudi Arabia. However, he told AIN, “Actually, the market is dry. It is very dry. We have 94 percent of charter orders going unsatisfied.”
SPA (Booth 1125) is awaiting the arrival of an Embraer Praetor 500 in the third quarter of next year and has an option on a second. He hinted that business jets of sizes varying up to Boeing BBJs would be on his target list to make air charter at the individual, rather than delegation level, more possible.
The charter operator already lists several widebodies from parent company Saudi Arabian Airlines' fleet as available for charter. “Why do we need to reinvent?” he asked. “Somebody has aircraft; why not work together and use our air operator certificate?”
Al Jarboa said it was difficult to assess which lessors had availability. “We're negotiating,” he said. “Actually, we're in discussion to have something within the next two months. We will start with one or two aircraft, just to meet immediate demand. Ideally, we should have, between owned and wet-leased, at least four to six aircraft.”
SPA sold six Dassault Falcon 7Xs over the past four years, as well as a number of its Hawker 400XPs.
In his conference remarks, Al Jarboa stressed the central plank of the Vision 2030 plan. “I don't want to sound negative, but Saudi Arabia was not easily accessible in the past,” he said. “It wasn't easy to do business, due to lack of regulations and, maybe, lack of synchronization between the different government agencies. Vision 2030 has a number of programs and initiatives to get the government to work as one entity to facilitate the environment for doing business, to make it easier for operators and everyone else to come and do business in Saudi Arabia.”
“Saudi Arabia has a pretty underpenetrated look about it,” WingX managing Richard Koe said during the MEBAA Show session.