Al Jaber Aviation's (AJA) high-end air taxi service Sky Limo will launch operations on 15 January when its sole aircraft – a Hawker 800XP – makes its first commercial flight.

The Abu Dhabi-headquartered VIP charter company plans to expand Sky Limo’s fleet with other midsize business jets, as well as superlight types, with a view to creating the Middle East’s first point-to-point charter service within a few years.

A separate operation using a fleet of entry-level business jets is also planned within the same timeframe. This will be launched under the brand name Sky Taxi.

“Our immediate plan is to add a second managed 800XP to the Sky Limo fleet within the next four months, and third aircraft before the end of the year,” says AJA chief operating officer Mark Pierotti.

“The 800XP is an ideal aircraft for this service, with its big cabin, large luggage space and 2,400nm [4,440km] range, which connects Abu Dhabi and Dubai with key destinations in the Middle East and Africa such as Istanbul and Beirut,” he adds.

However, AJA is not limiting its vision to this out-of-production type. “We are also looking at other midsize jets such as the [Cessna Citation] Sovereign and light twins with sizeable cabins, such as the [Embraer] Phenom 300,” says Pierotti. “We just need to find willing aircraft owners who are prepared to let us use them in the Sky Limo fleet. We will do a marketing push at the Abu Dhabi [Air Expo] in February to attract owners as well as potential customers for both Sky Limo and Sky Taxi.”

Both operations are targeted at travellers looking to do short, regional hops without the expense of the large-cabin, long-range jets synonymous with operators in the Middle East – including AJA, which has a growing fleet of owned and managed Airbus Corporate Jets and Embraer Lineage 1000’s. “Many senior executives are looking to make day trips around the region for business. They want to be in and out quickly and efficiently,” Pierotti says

Sky Limo offers a high level of bespoke customer service not commonly associated with traditional air taxi operations. However, AJA’s Sky Taxi service will provide a lower level of comfort on its entry-level jets. “This will be a less superior product,” says Pierotti. “It will be catering for small groups or individuals who want to travel short hops of no more than 2h. Aircraft of this size will give them access to so many airports around the region.”

“Both offerings will also help to attract new business by lowering the entry barrier to private aircraft travel,” Pierotti adds.

AJA plans to build up the fleet and eventually offer a point-to-point service between key destinations. “Abu Dhabi to Beirut or Dubai to Istanbul would make interesting routes,” says Pierotti. “We will know which are the most popular sectors when Sky Limo has been operating for a while.”

Source: Flight International