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Thu 10 Jul 2008 11:59 AM

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Growth of private jet industry surges 18%

Demand for private jets rocketing in the region, despite global slowdown, increasing fuel costs.

The Middle East’s private jet industry is growing by a massive 18 percent annually, despite increasing fuel prices and a slumping global economy, Dubai’s aviation leaders said Wednesday.Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates and Dubai City of Aviation Corporation, said the region’s 18 percent annual growth rate is compared to the global average of 10 percent.

“This (high growth) is boosting global sales despite increasing fuel prices and the US credit crisis which has seen fewer Americans placing orders for private jets last year,” Sheikh Ahmed said in a statement.

“The Middle East business aviation market is expected to reach $800 million by 2012," he added.

Khalifa Al Zaffin, executive chairman of Dubai World Central, said the region has a "huge market" for the private jet industry.

“The region’s share of the overall aviation market is expected to double to 40 percent and with DWC building the region's largest executive jet terminal with handling capacity of 100,000 flight movements annually, the region will have unrestrained capacity for business aviation flights.”

According to industry analysts, manufacturers expect to sell over 1,250 private jets this year, compared to 1,138 in 2007. Currently, there are 22 private jet operators in the Middle East.

The region's aviation sector is forecast to grow at more than 30 percent annually for the next five years and the current growth of over 9 percent for the Middle East maintenance repair operations (MRO) market is expected to continue for the same period.

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