The Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show will be staged for the first time at Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport later this year (December 11-13). Organizers say the new location at what is also known as Dubai World Central will allow plenty of space for growth at a show that in 2010 attracted 338 exhibitors, 55 aircraft and 6,200 trade visitors.
United Arab Emirates
Tough trading conditions aren’t discouraging business aviation services group Gama (Stand 955) from its goal of growing a global network. The latest evidence of this is that Gama’s Asian clients are now benefiting from the UK-based business aviation, charter, management and maintenance company’s recently opened Hong Kong FAA Part 135 operating base.
Gama Aviation’s FBO at Sharjah International Airport in the UAE has seen a 25-percent increase in business jet movements in the first quarter versus a year ago. The company, which took over responsibility for all business and general aviation aircraft handling at Sharjah in January, said that business jet movements doubled last month, compared with April 2011. Additionally, a further 20 operators and flight support agencies have signed up for handling agreements with Gama’s Sharjah FBO, it said.
Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a leading business aviation hub in the Arabian Gulf was further enhanced by the March staging of the inaugural Air Expo. The event, held at the Al Bateen Executive Airport nine months before rival Dubai’s Middle East Business Aviation show, attracted a reported 10,700 visitors and 105 exhibitors.
Boeing has expanded its supplier base into the Middle East by awarding a 10-year contract to Strata Manufacturing, the Al Ain-based subsidiary of Mubadala Aerospace in the United Arab Emirates. The deal, announced at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi on April 17, covers empennage ribs for the 777 twinjet and vertical fin ribs for the 787.
Royal Jet president and CEO Shane O’Hare is predicting that the Middle East market for private jet travel could grow at 6 to 8 percent this year and next, with Royal Jet itself forecasting 15-percent growth this year. He also said the growth of the private jet market could spawn the development of global alliances among operators, along similar lines to those in the airline sector. The Abu Dhabi-based flight services company reported a 15-percent increase in first-quarter revenue from a year ago.
NetJets Europe announced today that it is extending its ferry waiver zone, in which fees on positioning flights are not charged, for flights between 21 “business critical” airports in the Middle East and Europe. The extension will add Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait to the waiver, which previously included Lebanon and Tel Aviv. The company said it has witnessed “strong growth” in flights to the Middle East in the last few years, with 9.2 percent growth reported last year alone.
Annual passenger demand at Dubai International Airport is set to hit 88.4 million by 2018, triggering the start of major airline operations at the new Al Maktoum International Airport, centerpiece of the multi-phase Dubai World Central (DWC) development at Jebel Ali, 25 miles south of Dubai city center.
While the inaugural three-day Abu Dhabi Air Expo held last week at Al Bateen Executive Airport attracted almost 100 exhibitors and approximately 7,500 visitors, the airport itself was the star of the show. Opened in the 1960s, Al Bateen is minutes from Abu Dhabi’s prime locations and lies on the city’s main island. In 2008, airport manager Abu Dhabi Airports converted it into a facility for business jet operators. Established VIP players Al Jaber Aviation and Prestige Jet and charter operator Falcon Aviation Services are its major users.
Regional airline service has been slow to take root in the Middle East, and especially at the entry-level turboprop end of the market. But now, a start-up operator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is preparing to launch a feeder service to the region’s aspiring hubs in Abu Dhabi and Doha, giving locals the chance to bypass crowded Dubai.
Based in Fujairah, UAE, Eastern Express plans to ferry business passengers into Abu Dhabi and Doha to connect with growing Gulf-based international passenger networks starting during this year’s first quarter.