EBACE: Middle East operators make their mark

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Middle East business aviation operators are making their mark at an EBACE short of big orders, with a deal for the region's first Beechcraft Premier II and expansion announcements which defy market gloom.

Two companies from one of the fastest-emerging business aviation countries -Jordan -today announced plans to merge operations and become arguably the Middle East's only company offering pilot training, business jet maintenance, ground handling and aircraft charter.

Amman-based charter provider RayaJet and Ayla Aviation Academy in Aqaba signeda teaming arrangement at the Middle East Business Aviation show in Dubai late last year. Now they are taking that further with a joint order for the Premier II - signed in Geneva last night - and moves to combine their businesses into a full-service aviation services provider this year.

billypix
 © Billypix

Nader Dajani, chairman of RayaJet, says Jordan's ready supply of mostly ex-air force engineers and pilots and the support of a very proactive national civil aviation regulator mean it can compete on at least an equal footing with rivals in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the other Gulf states when offering training and maintenance. The Premier II, due for delivery in 2011, will be used for both pilot training and charter.

The merged business intends to set up by 2011 a maintenance hangar, initially specialising in Hawker Beechcraft aircraft, and acquire at least one full-flight simulator, probably for a business jet.

"We are two young companies providing one of the finest qualities of service in the area," says Dajani. "Jordan is a good place to recruit the best aviation professionals."

The government is keen to turn the country - which has the advantage of being well placed between Europe and Asia and enjoying friendly relations with all its neighbours - into one of the region's aviation hubs.

RayaJet in addition announced at the show a tie-up with Air Route Aviation Services of Saudi Arabia, which Dajani said would open doors into the kingdom for the company. "The main market for executive chartering in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, and this alliance will help us utilise our aircraft for executive chartering from there," he said.

Fellow Jordanian charter specialist Arab Wings is also talking about its ambitions at EBACE. The Amman-based carrier, which at 34yearsold, claims to be the oldest private jet company in the Middle East, has just taken delivery of its tenth aircraft, a Bombardier Challenger 605 under management. It expects its fleet to reach 12 or 13 aircraft by the end of the year.

Two months ago, Arab Wings announced that is was moving into the United Arab Emirates with a sister company, Gulf Wings, in Sharjah.

Other Middle Eastern business aviation providers are flying the flag for the region with stands at EBACE. They include major sponsor Jet-Ex, Syria's Hadid, JP Jets of Jordan, Palm Aviation and Dubai-based United Aviation.