By Karen Leigh
Sector forecast to grow over next decade, leaders claim
The Middle East business aviation industry will continue to experience strong growth in the next 10 to 15 years, a top jet executive said at MEBA, the fourth Middle East Business Aviation conference.
“The GCC is in place in terms of growth but still accounts for less than five percent of our global fleet,” Olivier Villa, Dassault Aviation’s senior vice president for civil aircraft, said in an interview with Arabian Business. “Its growth will come with [further] business development – everything is in place to go.”
Partnerships formed at the show with China and India, two other fast-growing business aviation markets, also herald the Middle East’s coming out as a major deal-making forum for the industry.
Tag Aviation Asia Ltd, the Hong Kong affiliate of Tag Aviation Holding, used MEBA to form an alliance with the Shenyang-based China First Mandarin Group.
And the UAE’s Fujairah International Airport announced its Expression of Interest agreement with India’s Cochin International Airport, located in the resort playground of Kerala.
The deal will see them develop a new passenger and cargo charter flights between the two cities..
MEBA was also the setting for the firm order by Comlux The Aviation Group of two Bombardier Global 7000 business aircraft, in a deal worth US$130m at list price.
MEBA is the largest private jet show in the Middle East. Held at the Dubai Airport Expo, with a fleet of private jets lined up for show just feet from the Emirates runway, it features 338 plane manufacturers, service providers and industry suppliers from 38 countries.
Its success is a key indicator of the growth in the GCC business jet market, with the last show – in 2008 – attracting just 250 exhibitors from 30 countries.
That show closed with over $1.5bn in sales.
Villa said the key reason the industry would continue to grow in the GCC was efficiency – the time and hassle saved by a group of businessmen in a hurry to make a short conference on another continent.
“The cost of using a private jet is always higher than other modes of transportation, but it’s giving us the opportunity not to waste time,” Villa said. He cited his own company’s need as an example.
“When you want to fly a board of directors from Paris to Arkansas for a four-hour meeting, you arrive after working on the plane, have the meeting and you are back [home] the next day, fresh and rested,” he said. “If you tried to do the same with an airline, you would save cash but come back exhausted.
“We’re not trying to match commercial airlines – that’s like trying to match your personal car with public transport.”For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.