Within a short period of time Chapman Freeborn has expanded its services in the region by leveraging its experience from being part of the business aviation industry for 40 years
How important is business aviation for the development of a region’s economy?
Business aviation is now being seen as an increasingly vital support tool with the Middle East region, to sustain current economic activity, plus also to help drive new developments within the market.
As we have long seen, there is a historic correlation between increased corporate profitability, and a requirement for business jet services. It is clear, more and more business people are using executive jet charter services to speed up their tasks at a variety of destinations these days. While business aviation in the region is not at the same levels as that in North America and Europe, the market is showing slow but sure signs of growth.
Are there any particular hurdles to the growth of business aviation here?
There are some key hurdles that the business jet operators face within the region, primarily specific government regulation related to this area of aviation. Policies and procedures are simply not sophisticated enough to cope with the enormous growth that the industry has seen over the last ten years.
Another hurdle that is faced on a regular basis is the ‘grey market’ arena. These unlicensed aircraft provide both operators and charter brokers with enormous headaches, as they are often much cheaper than commercial aircraft, and the end client is often unaware of the implications they face when chartering the aircraft.
What are your predictions for the region’s business aviation market?
The region has faced unprecedented economic challenges in recent years, and this has impacted the growth of business aviation. The regional industry is continuing to mature, and after a period of consolidation over the last couple of years, we are seeing some planned expansion in the sector, with the introduction of both new aircraft and new infrastructure.
Following on from last year, there has been a growth in demand for larger aircraft within this region, as larger groups are travelling longer distances for business. We expect to see wide-bodied long-range jets joining the fleets of several operators within the region.
Is the region ready to receive such growth in the sector?
Currently one of the major issues facing business aviation is the lack of dedicated airports. Only Al Bateen Executive in Abu Dhabi operates as a business aviation facility, and has seen huge growth and success from its location close to the city centre.
As Dubai International has grown with commercial traffic, the delays faced by executive jets for departure slots have also increased. New FBOs coming on line at Al Maktoum International will help ease this congestion, however not all countries within the region are gearing up for the future.
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How can the government help in developing the sector?
The governments around the region can support business aviation by regulating operations of both Middle East-based and foreign-registered aircraft, within their airspace, along with those permanently based at their airports.
They can work to attract FBO operators to set up new bases at the airports under their jurisdiction, by removing barriers of entry and supporting investment into the region.
Is having a luxurious airport important or is slot availability the main concern?
Whilst the facilities on the ground at an FBO are important to the business traveler like quiet, private areas, with full communication services, a business traveler will prioritize time over this, as it is most probably a key reason he is travelling on a private jet.
Whilst the FBO process could be slick and efficient, our business traveler could then end up taxiing for the same amount of time he has spent already at the airport due to slot delays. Combining business jets with commercial passenger flights can be tricky, and only a dedicated facility can truly serve a business traveler efficiently.
Could you tell us a little more about Chapman Freeborn’s history in the region?
Established in the UK in 1973, Chapman Freeborn is officially celebrating 40 years of successful aircraft chartering. Starting out from humble beginnings from an office in London, arranging contracts for Alaska International Air’s L-100 Hercules freighter fleet, the company has grown steadily and organically.
Today, it is a leading supplier of passenger and freight aircraft charters to major corporations, private individuals, aid agencies and governments, with 450 employees and over 30 offices globally.
Our regional operations started with the opening of our first office in Sharjah in 1999, which continues to be our cargo operations hub where staff manage our leased fleet of cargo aircraft operating into various bases to and from Afghanistan. Here we have an administrative office along with a 2,800sq ft. cargo warehouse.
The second office to open was in 2004. This is now our key hub office, based out of the Dubai Airport Free Zone, where we have since moved into a larger office due to staff levels tripling.
The office now houses over 90 staff with dedicated teams for VIP & executive, commercial and cargo departments, where our multilingual charter brokers work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to find the best solutions for both passenger and cargo movements.
Our third UAE office based at the Al Maktoum International Airport provides ground operational support for all cargo projects.
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What type of aircrafts do you manage and offer as part of your fleet?
Chapman Freeborn operates as a neutral entity, and does not own any of its own aircraft. This however gives us access to the thousands of aircraft available globally through the CF Group network. It is key to note, that the company only works with aircraft operators that can meet and exceed stringent safety standards and the exact requirements of its customers.
What are some of the services Chapman offers?
Chapman Freeborn provides specialist and bespoke solutions for commercial passenger, executive jet and cargo charter requirements, along with a multitude of other services, including; OBC (on-board courier), group travel bookings (group tickets team), flight support services (WINGS 24) and centralised load control services (air dispatch).
With over 35 offices strategically located across 25 countries, our global coverage is unparalleled. Chapman Freeborn has an established presence in most major commercial and aviation hubs, and therefore can offer more worldwide buying power, service locations and local expertise than any other air charter company.
The Dubai office has a team of professional multilingual charter and commercial experts who are contactable 24/7/365, and dedicated to finding the optimum aircraft charter solutions for our clients.
The company’s passenger charter services encompass the full range of business and private aviation requirements across the world for VIPs, high net worth individuals, government officials, ruling families, prominent individuals in the entertainment and music industries, through to specialist medical evacuation services.
Chapman Freeborn OBC provides transportation solutions tailored to clients’ specific requirements with dedicated couriers accompanying each shipment every step of the way.
Whether it is one envelope or 30 boxes, the collection and delivery of your goods is carried out by fully trained and dedicated couriers. Leading brands and suppliers in the automotive, financial, energy, pharmaceutical, medical and fashion sectors rely on us on a daily basis with their time-critical spare parts, samples, prototypes and important documents. Chapman Freeborn OBC offers door-to-door hand-carry services for time-critical shipments.
The cargo brokers deliver reliable and cost-effective cargo charter solutions, especially for heavy and outsize pieces, energy equipment, time critical cargo and dangerous goods. Chapman Freeborn was voted Air Cargo Charter Broker of the Year at the ACW World Air Cargo Awards for the sixth straight year in 2012.
This unique award reflects our professionalism in coordinating over 6,000 air cargo charters a year. From moving a 100-ton piece of energy equipment to South America to delivering hundreds of tons of aid for the many relief organisations it works with in Africa and elsewhere, Chapman Freeborn’s cargo activities are diverse.
Chapman Freeborn has been involved in humanitarian charters for 40 years, starting with the World Food Programme’s first ever charter programme from Port Sudan across Africa. Other major exercises include supporting the response to the Asian tsunami, earthquakes in Pakistan, famines in Africa and the most recent unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Any expansion plans in the region and otherwise?
Chapman Freeborn is focused on consolidating the role of the UAE as a strategic hub for the Group into 2014 and onwards. The Middle East Region will continue to play a significant part in the overall growth of the company, and the company is always on the look-out for new talent.