Gulfstream may not be present at EBACE next week, but its newly-certificated aircraft – the 7,500nm (13,900km)-range G700 – will be on display, courtesy of launch customer Qatar Executive.

The VIP charter arm of the Doha-based airline unveiled its first two examples of the Rolls-Royce Pearl 700-powered jet at a ceremony at Hamad International airport on 22 May and is taking one of them – A7-CHB – to the show in Geneva before launching revenue flights in June. European high-net-worth individuals and brokers are a key market for the fast-growing operator.


Source: Qatar Executive

A7-CHA was the first G700 to be delivered to a customer

Qatar Executive – which was the official recipient of the first G700, A7-CHA – has seven more of the type on order, with the first two of these in the “last stages of acceptance”, according to Qatar Airways new chief executive Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, who was making a rare appearance in front of the media after replacing long-time predecessor Akbar Al Baker in November. Delivery dates for the subsequent five aircraft are being finalised with Gulfstream.

The G700 received US certification in late March – with European qualification following in mid-May – after a drawn-out approval process, due partly to the Federal Aviation Administration’s shortage of experienced examiners and increased scrutiny of Boeing.

Qatar Executive, which was founded in 2009, has expanded significantly over the past 10 years as it has transitioned from an almost entirely Bombardier to a predominantly Gulfstream fleet. As well as its new G700s, it operates 15 Gulfstream G650s alongside two Global 5000s from the Canadian manufacturer and an Airbus ACJ319.

It plans to keep operating its G650s alongside the G700s for the next “two or three years at least”, although Al-Meer says that beyond that it may look to “upgrade” to additional G700s or the longer-range G800, which is still uncertificated.

“We are seeing very big demand for our services in all regions of the world, so there is the potential of future orders and growing the fleet further,” he says.


Source: Qatar Executive

Al-Meer sees potential for further Gulfstream acquisitions

Gulfstream says it will deliver G700s at a rate of around 17 aircraft per quarter for the rest of 2024, having built a large inventory over the protracted certification period, and is aiming to deliver around 50 examples this year, Phebe Novakovic, chief executive of parent General Dynamics, said in April.

Speaking at the 22 May event, Gulfstream president Mark Burns said he was confident of achieving certification for the G800 by the end of the year, with deliveries beginning “soon after”.

The Savannah-based airframer has been flying two test aircraft for almost a year, with a third example, with a finished interior, joining the programme this summer.

Because of the “great commonality” between the G700 and G800 – the two have the same cockpit and fuselage shape, with the latter sacrificing cabin length for greater range – Burns does not expect any hitches in the approval process. “We are in the final phases of performance testing,” he says.

Gulfstream also expects to fly its other in-development platform – the large-cabin G400 – in the third quarter of 2024.

Gulfstream and rival Bombardier both confirmed some weeks ago that they would not be participating in EBACE this year in a blow for the European show, which has taken place annually – except for a two-year break during the pandemic – since 2001.

Speaking in Qatar, Burns said Gulfstream had taken the decision to focus on smaller, regional shows and customer events as they delivered a better return on investment, although he did not rule out returning to the Geneva event “in the future”.

Qatar Airways is arguably the only major airline to have successfully branched out into private aviation, although others have tried on a modest scale, such as Gulf rival Emirates, which offers charter flights on an ACJ319 under the Emirates Executive brand. More ambitiously, US major Delta Air Lines ran its Delta Private Jets subsidiary for almost two decades before formally winding it up in 2020, although last year it acquired a majority stake in troubled charter company Wheels Up.

Al-Meer puts Qatar Executive’s achievement down to the fact that “we understand this business when it comes to high-level passengers”. He adds: “We have been dealing with these sorts of customers for a very long time. We have a strong base of loyal customers who like to come back to us. Our specialist cabin crew understand their requirements and we create a connection.”


Source: Qatar Executive

The G700’s master bedroom: Qatar Executive will make the aircraft available to customers from June

While Qatar Executive is Gulfstream’s most prominent Middle Eastern customer, the airframer has had a presence in the region for 40 years, delivering around 100 jets over that time, says Burns.