Qatar Executive is seeking to become a "truly global player" in the business aviation services industry and is set to expand its fleet of large-cabin and long-range aircraft to exploit demand for business aircraft in the flourishing markets of the Middle East, Russia, West Africa and Asia.
"Since our launch in 2009, Qatar Executive has doubled its wholly owned all-Bombardier fleet," said company chief executive Akbar Al Baker. "Today, we operate six corporate jets [three Challenger 605s two Global 5000s and an XRS] with an average age of just one year - the youngest fleet of business aircraft in the Middle East."
Al Baker said the Qatar Airways business jet subsidiary has been largely cushioned from the protracted economic slump because of its focus on high-end business jets, wealthy individuals and corporate travellers.
© Qatar Executive
Qatar Executive currently operates six corporate jets, including two Bombardier Global 5000s
"As we see a decline in demand in Europe, Qatar Executive has not experienced a slowdown in the Middle East. With our intercontinental business jet fleet, we are connecting global growth markets and are thus less affected by difficult economic market environments," he said.
For many company executives, business aircraft travel has become an indispensable tool, Al Baker conceded. "This time-saving factor translates directly into higher productivity of senior executives," he said. "There are real benefits in times of recession for the corporate jet business to continue to flourish as there is a niche market that continues to look to this form of air travel for business or personal needs."
Qatar Executive's customer base consists mainly of leisure and business travellers in the Gulf region, Russia and Europe, where business in the past 12 months has been strong, Al Baker said. Now, the "under-served" markets of India, Africa and Asia - particularly China - have become a major draw for the company.
"Forging ahead to meet the growing demand for business jet services in Qatar, the Middle East and globally, Qatar Executive is planning a major strategic expansion to widen its reach into Europe, the USA and other emerging markets to become a truly global player," he said
It is a bit early to outline these plans in detail, Al Baker conceded "but we have several projects in the pipeline to capitalise on new markets".
With its focus on global travel, Qatar Executive will concentrate its fleet expansion on large-cabin and long-range business jets. "We have tried the [super midsize] Challenger 300 in the Middle East market, but were limited by the short range of such aircraft," he said. "To successfully serve the markets we target, we have to operate aircraft that can at least fly from the region to London non-stop, with significant passenger baggage payload and cabin comfort."
Meanwhile, Qatar Executive's fixed-base operation at the New Doha International Airport is set to open at the end of 2013, which Al Baker expects "will be one of the most advanced and prestigious facilities of its kind anywhere in the world".