GERALD BUTT / NICOSIA
United Aviation set to take off with Embraer Legacy once international airports reopen
Kuwait's first business jet charter airline, United Aviation, is set to launch operations with an eye on the potentially lucrative Iraq market.
United Aviation is owned by Kuwait Projects (KIPCO). It has bought one new Rolls-Royce AE3007-powered Embraer Legacy and a second aircraft is expected to be in service by the end of the year.
The new company has carried out extensive feasibility studies on business aviation opportunities in the Middle East and beyond. The prospect of the huge international operation to rebuild Iraq presents potential opportunities for the new charter company. "Iraq is a major focus for regional and international businesses seeking to be involved in rebuilding the country," says KIPCO managing director and chief executive Faisal Hamad al-Ayyar. "Our new airline will be in the leading position to provide a premier service for swift and comfortable access to the Iraqi business centres, once all official permissions are given."
United Aviation was launched in mid-July, a few days after Kuwait announced plans to open its airspace for commercial flights to Iraq for the first time since the 1990 Iraqi invasion. However, the reopening of international airports in Iraq is awaiting improved security and the upgrade of navigational and other facilities.
The demand for air services is likely to be considerable. "We can offer a journey time of around 45min from Kuwait to Baghdad," says United Aviation, adding: "Over land the journey takes around 8h, with all the attendant security risks. It's cowboy country at the moment."
In the short term, United Aviation envisages operating only one-off charter services, but is leaving open the option of scheduled charters if the demand on a particular route merits it. Further fleet expansion could then follow.
United Aviation's chief executive is Capt Abdullah Bastaki, who is a former director of operations at Kuwait Airways and head of the Amiri Fleet.
Source: Flight International