Middle Eastern executives must think differently about business aviation before smaller business jets can make a breakthrough in the region.

That is the view of Ali Al Naqbi, who heads the Dubai-based Middle East Business Aviation Association. He says the market must move towards a "more efficient use of aircraft" with companies regarding them as a "business tool" and not just an exclusive method of transport for individuals of high net worth.

Although sales of business jets in the Middle East have boomed in the past eight years, the most popular brands are airliner-based variants from Airbus, Boeing and Embraer, as well as large-cabin types from Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream. Mid-size jets tend to be used for missions such as medevac, with light and entry-level types - which have suffered worst globally as a result of the downturn - barely registering.

Bridging the gap between scheduled airlines and chartering large aircraft for tens of thousands of dollars is something the industry has to work harder at, says Al Naqbi.

"The core of the market is big jets, but we are calling for more use of smaller aircraft. There will always be people who fly with two colleagues on a BBJ [Boeing Business Jet], but we want to capture the ordinary community of businessmen and women," he says. "Business aviation should not just be about luxury. It needs a new type of business mentality."

MEBAA is behind the Middle East Business Aviation exhibition, which takes place in Dubai in December.

Source: Flight International