By Andy Sambidge
Qatar Airways' corporate jet unit says it will add three new aircraft to cater for surge in demand
Qatar Airways has announced that its corporate jet division will double the size of its fleet by the end of August.
Qatar Executive will add three new Bombardier aircraft to its fleet starting from later this month to make a fleet of six planes, the company said in a statement.
The carrier said it has taken measures to increase its fleet capacity to "cater to the surge in private travel in the region and worldwide".
According to the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), the number of private aircraft operated in the Arab World will increase from 450 today to 1,300 by 2020 with the addition of more than 800 units over the next 10 years.
The incoming deliveries will include a Bombardier XRS in May, followed by a Challenger 605 in July, and a Global 5000 in August, the latter of which is the second delivery from an order for two Global 5000s announced at the Farnborough Air Show last July.
The Doha-based corporate jet operation began in 2009 with two Bombardier Challenger 605s. Last October a Global 5000 joined the fleet, which took the total fleet up to three aircraft.
Qatar Executive's operations has also been boosted by the opening of a dedicated 6,300 sq m hangar facility at Doha International Airport, the company added.
The hangar features aircraft handling and dispatch services, aircraft cleaning, as well as passenger lounge facilities for visiting aircraft.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker hailed the rapid growth of Qatar Executive as testament to the region's burgeoning demand for corporate jet travel.
"When Qatar Executive first began, it was a successful operation right from the start. The travel patterns we witnessed from the onset were indicative of the pent-up demand for tailor-made and completely customised travel. It immediately became obvious that we were filling a gap in a market which has grown rapidly, particularly in the Middle East region," he said.
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) reported that the Middle East region's business and VIP aircraft fleet swelled from approximately 200 in 2000 to almost 450 aircraft by 2009, representing annual growth of almost 13 percent.
Al Baker added: "The statistics clearly show that the private travel segment is continuing to grow - along with air traffic demand overall."
Qatar Executive's corporate jets can operate non-stop to anywhere in Europe, as well as most places in Asia and Africa. In addition, each jet can reach North America with a fuel stop in Europe, the company said.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a fleet of 120 aircraft.