Business jet OEMs have identified the Middle East as a target market and several wealthy individuals have moved to the region to take advantage of air charter opportunities, according to Dubai-based UAS International Trip Support.
“As we officially emerge from the pandemic, the private aviation sector is rebounding incredibly fast in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region,” UAS co-owner, founder, and executive president Mohammed Al Husary said. “This is largely due to high demand. A large number of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals have positioned themselves in this region to take advantage of the current set of business jets that provide range and luxury to access the globe.”
Pre-pandemic, such travelers might have used first class as their means of transport but they have since discovered private aviation as a safer, faster, and more efficient alternative, he said. "Now that they have switched to it, they are unlikely to transition back to commercial travel," Al Husary added.
“Additionally, business jet manufacturers have identified this region as a growth market and turned their focus here to satisfy expected demand. We expect this to continue to flourish in 2023,” he said.
Growing the Fleet
As demand for business aviation rises in the region, the size of the fleet, in general, will have to grow to match it. In September 2021, Bombardier announced that it received an order for 20 Challenger 3500 business jets worth $534 million. Al Husary also noted that “Gulfstream unveiled the G800 last October, which boasts an incredible 8,000-nautical mile range and will begin deliveries in 2023.
“Refinement and efficiency are the cornerstones of this new airplane, reflecting what the market wants and needs. This investment only points one way—that development, production, and innovation of business jets will surely see demand in the region increase,” he said.
While Al Husary said business aviation is incredibly sensitive to changes in economic and social conditions, it is also extremely resilient. “Adaptability is the name of the game,” he remarked. “There is strong demand for travel now that restrictions are being lifted. Economic recovery might take a bit longer than expected. However, despite oil concerns and the conflict in Ukraine, the demand for business travel is extremely strong.
“Particularly within UAS, we’ve noticed that our business aviation clients have never been more active," he reported. "The reduction in country restrictions across the globe means that previous difficulties are dissolving, and more people are taking to the skies, not just in the MENA region but globally.”
Lately, UAS has been supporting clients’ operations to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as head-of-state operations to the APEC summit in Bangkok, and COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November. UAS was also busy supporting international flights to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September, a challenging feat due to tight restrictions on slots and airport parking availability at major London airports.
“This endeavor required multiple supervisors on the ground at one time supporting different missions whilst being led by the operations team in Dubai," said Al Husary. "It was another great illustration of how our global network, and power to put our people on the ground, are key to our operational excellence. We see our role as alleviating the stress and workloads of our clients, optimizing their resources and efficiency, and delivering superior travel experiences.”
Growth Leads To Expansion
UAS recently made great strides in solidifying its global network in the Americas and the Balkans, ensuring the delivery of white-glove service on the ground across five continents.
“Our recent investment and expansion across North and into South America can now rival our extensive ground presence in the Middle East, Africa, and China,” Al Husary said. “Our on-site supervisors across airports in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia—with the power to relocate to any airport—alleviate time-consuming planning and supervision responsibilities, and act as a local liaison, allowing our clients to leave trip planning to us so they can focus on their core business.”
Al Husary said feedback from early adopters of the UAS Global Trip Manager (GTM) technology had been overwhelmingly positive. UAS launched GTM in May with selected partners among the first to put the trip management tool through its paces. “It was specifically designed to overcome the major and minor pain points that operators experience,” he said.
“GTM delivers comprehensive and immediate control of all trip-planning activities in a user-friendly, straightforward web and mobile-based trip planning application," he noted. "It’s certainly the most powerful trip management system available on the market, with some unique features. And it meets operators’ needs for greater control of their trip-planning activities.”