UK Prime Minister David Cameron made an unexpected stop here at the Dubai Airshow on his way home from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. Speaking to assembled UK aerospace industrialists, he encouraged them to compete in what he termed the “global race.” Cameron did not refer specifically to the possibility of selling Eurofighter Typhoons to the UAE, but did say that he was “incredibly proud to stand up and promote the aircraft around the world.” He later stated his hop that the UK could be entering into a partnership here in the UAE on more general aerospace matters.
With eight civil airports boasting IATA designations, it’s reasonable to ask why there are so many facilities in a country the size of the UAE. Partly, this is because five of the seven emirates Abu Dhabi (3), Dubai (2), Fujairah (1), Ras al-Khaimah (1) and Sarjah (1) have the demand. The other two–Ajman, at 259 sq km the smallest, and Umm al-Quwain, the least populous–do not.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, the CEO of Flydubai, Dubai’s low-cost carrier, has a reputation for being tight-lipped. Observers would be unwise to mistake this reticence for a lack of activity: Flydubai has been diligent in adding aircraft and routes ever since its first flight to Beirut in 2009 and, as of September, Dubai’s second airline, operated to 66 destinations, from Yekaterinburg in the north to the Maldives in the south, Belgrade in the west and Colombo in the east.
The spectacular rise of Emirates and its Gulf rivals confounded the expectations of mature carriers in the U.S. and Europe. These fifth- and sixth-freedom carriers have limitless ambitions and enjoy the revenues won through hydrocarbon abundance to back them up. But personalities have also played a role and one thing is sure: the Ruler of Dubai has made himself a pivotal player on the world’s aviation stage.
Business success anywhere in the world can often depend on a company’s willingness to serve local interests as much as on its ability to offer a good-quality product at a fair price. In the Middle East, perhaps more than elsewhere, a company’s product offerings best come with a readiness to help build a foundation for industrial and societal development. Boeing learned that lesson the hard way, as its past tendency to simply “parachute in” for sales resulted in some lackluster results over the years, particularly in the commercial realm.
Business aviation is set to make a strong showing next week at the Dubai Airshow, with the sector expected to account for about one-third of the 150 aircraft on static display and approximately 220 of the more than 1,000 exhibiting companies. In addition to the airframers, business aviation service providers such as Jet Aviation, ExecuJet Aviation, Royal Jet and Jetex are exhibiting at the event, which opens on Sunday.
Buoyed by the recent win of Turkey’s long-range aerial and missile defense system (T-Loramids) tender, China’s radar and defense electronics industry is pushing to enter more markets outside its traditional customer base. These include nations in Latin America–such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile–as well as some of the former Soviet republics.
DhabiJet–the FBO at Al Bateen Executive Airport, the only dedicated business aviation airport in the Middle East–has begun offering fueling services to all visiting aircraft at the Abu Dhabi, UAE airfield. It also plans to offer discounted fuel to attract technical stopovers and to encourage more airlines and private jets to use Al Bateen Executive Airport as their hub in the Middle East.
Dubai Airshow organizer F&E Aerospace is pressing the reset button on the biennial event, staging the Middle East’s premier aerospace and defense gathering at a new purpose-built site at Dubai World Central. The show is to be permanently based in the new Aviation City zone at DWC, which is a vast new economic development hub built around the new Al Maktoum International Airport near the Jebel Ali seaport.
Eight senior air force commanders from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East have agreed to speak at the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC), which immediately precedes the Dubai Air Show on November 16. They include the British and French air force commanders, and the commander of the USAF’s Central Command. Their decision to attend the conference and show may reflect a desire to reassure allies in the Gulf of their support, after recent disagreements over policy toward Egypt and Syria.