More Falcons set to nest in Middle East region
By March of next year Dassault is expected to deliver the first of four Falcon 7Xs that Saudi Arabian Airlines ordered at the 2007 Dubai Airshow. Also in Saudi Arabia, the first Falcon 2000LX business jet is to be delivered to National Air Service (NAS) in January for the NetJets Middle East fractional ownership program. According to Alain Aubry, Dassault Falcon’s v-p for sales and marketing, the Middle East has accounted for only two order cancellations–far fewer than other regions–since the beginning of the economic crisis.
However, the contract with NAS is being “restructured.” The second 2000LX thus is now to be handed over “in the middle of next year.” In 2007, NAS ordered four firm aircraft, with 16 options.
Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to use its 7Xs to carry local VIPs, mainly members of the royal family. Another two aircraft are to be delivered next year and the fourth in 2011.
Dassault expects its current fleet of 50 Falcons in the region will grow by “more than 50 percent” in the next three years. Aubry sees the French firm’s market share growing against its competitors, primarily Gulfstream. Dassault’s main Falcon customer bases in the region are Egypt, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
The area saw deliveries of 21 aircraft in the last three years, which, added to the high number of in-transit business jets, is creating demand for more local service support. As a result, last year the company set up a spares parts distribution center in Dubai, with a $1.5 million inventory. Now an agreement is pending with Saudi Arabian Airlines for its maintenance facilities to become an authorized service center (ASC). “They already have the required tools and trained technicians,” Aubry said. Jet Aviation currently operates an ASC in Dubai.