Business aviators not to be eclipsed by commercial counterparts at Airshow

Business aviation operators believe Middle East sector is primed for growth and hope the Airshow will attract investment in the market prior to Expo 2020 next year
Business aviation, Private Aviation, Empire Aviation, MEBAA, Dassault Aviation

The business aviation market is well represented at the Dubai Airshow, with a number of key players optimistic about driving interest and attracting investment in the regional sector during the week.

While the focus has largely been on large airline orders and service agreements so far, business aviation operators believe the sector demands attention at the Airshow.

Speaking at the show, Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founder of MEBAA and chairman of IBAC, said that the Middle East’s business aviation market is poised for “exciting developments” and growth next year, and hopes the Airshow will be a platform for investment.

“The future is bright for business aviation in the Middle East. When everything settles down [politically], you can see the growth potential.

“I think 2020 is going to be a year that is very exciting for our activities and for business aviation in the region. Expo covers the whole region. It’s going to attract a lot of traffic and this traffic will generate an interest in the latest products and technology.

“People will realise we have the infrastructure here, and they will ask themselves: ‘Why don’t we come to the UAE and start operations or join in a venture with an existing company?’”

Empire Aviation announced at the show a new aircraft management operation based in Cairo, Egypt, which will see a Bombardier Global 6000 brought into the fleet.

Paras Dhamecha, co-founder of Empire Aviation, said that the deal “brings us something new and there’s a lot of excitement in that market already”.

Following the announcement, Dhamecha said the company has received contact from a number of interested parties.

He said: “Business aviation here is still in its infancy when you compare it to other parts of the world. The region is becoming ever more global. Socio-economically, the area has been a bit unstable over the last few years but I don’t think that has affected the business overall for us. Charter took a bit of dip but in the last six months, that has picked up again.

“We’ve started doing charter management. Charter is going to see a huge upswing. There are going to be a lot of people who need to get in here. We’re excited about 2020; I definitely think for airports and for people like ourselves, traffic is going to more than double, easily.”

He added: “Is a private aircraft going to compete against a commercial one? No. It is usually more expensive to operate a private aircraft. However, if you want to cover three countries in Africa and have a day to do it, there’s no other way than a private aircraft. Where time is money, this is the way to do it.”

Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation showcased its ultra-long range large cabin Falcon 8X flagship and 900LX at the event.

The company is using the Airshow to promote its wide-body Falcon 6X, currently in development. A full-scale cabin mockup of the large twinjet is featured on tarmac.

“We expect the Gulf region to be a major driver for our ultra widebody Falcon 6X, as it is already proving to be for our Falcon 8X flagship,” said Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier.

“The Middle East has always been a key market for Falcon aircraft, whose efficiency, cabin comfort and value for money are particularly appreciated by local operators.”

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