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Fri 1 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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All-business class jets eye UAE

Two all-business class airlines signal intentions to launch routes from Europe to Middle East.

Two all-business class airlines are seriously considering entering the UAE market, according to Dnata Airline Affairs manager Mark Turner.

Both Maxjet and Silverjet, which currently fly between the UK and the US are looking to expand their destination portfolio and are purchasing new planes, he told

after holding discussions with both carriers late last month.

"From our conversations with both airlines I can say that Dubai is definitely on their radar map," Turner said.

"But what is interesting is their perception that Dubai may be too big and may not want to bend over backwards to help them, which is totally not the case. Dubai is looking to accommodate new carriers and is definitely not closed; it needs to meet its aggressive tourism targets."

Turner said Maxjet and Silverjet would consider operating to airports other than Dubai, including Sharjah, which was keen to take advantage of airlines that had misconceptions about Dubai's openness to newcomers.

Maxjet currently flies from London Stansted (north east of London) to New York (JFK), Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Washington DC, and is currently floating on the London Alternative Investment Market in order to fund new routes from London to destinations including the Middle East.

Silverjet flies from London Luton (north London) to New York (Newark).

Both carriers, which Turner has dubbed "New World airlines", operate Boeing 767 aircraft and each offer 100 business class seats.

Turner described Maxjet as an affordable "business class alternative" and Silverjet as a "discreet private airline", which took out "the hassle of flying to the US".

"You check-in at a private lounge at Luton where you can sit down and have a coffee and everything is done for you; they take your bags, sort out the requirements for the US and escort you to the plane. It's almost like flying by private jet," he said.

Both Turner and Savio Vaz, manager HRG UAE & MEWA (part of Dnata Corporate Travel) said the New World airlines would appeal to travellers who currently opted for products such as World Traveller Plus on British Airways and Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic as the prices were comparable.

"This will get the economy class passengers to try out a business class product and encourage them to travel that way more often," said Vaz.

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