Bahrain has revealed its ambition to be the corporate aviation centre of the Gulf, following the opening late last month of a new $2 million business aircraft fixed-base operation at the island's international airport based in the capital, Manama.

Terminal operator Bahrain Executive Air Services (Bexair) has earmarked a further 32 million dinars ($88 million) to acquire more business aircraft and increase support services at the new terminal, says Bahraini transport minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.

The Bahrain civil aviation authority is studying applications from four new corporate aircraft operators, keen to operate services to Bahrain and make use of the new terminal, says acting under-secretary Capt Abdulrahman Algaoud.

In 2001 Bexair was the first non-royal corporate operator to be registered in Bahrain and is backed by Saudi Arabia-based Arabian Support and Services. The company has worked closely with the Bahraini aviation authorities in developing guidelines for the corporate aviation industry in the country. Bexair operates a Cessna Citation Excel and a Bombardier Challenger 604.

It has placed orders for a Bombardier Global Express, an Embraer Legacy and a Citation X.

Bexair chairman and chief executive Mansour Al Tassan is hopeful about corporate aviation in the region, and points to a study by UK consultants Vector Management International showing growth prospects in excess of $1 billion for corporate aircraft charters alone.

"We are proud that Bexair is the first and only fully fledged executive aviation company in the Gulf region, having its own aircraft, terminal and support service facilities," Al Tassan says. The new terminal includes lounges, meeting rooms and customs clearance services.

Source: Flight International