Al Jaber Aviation’s Sky Limo VIP charter service is set for a major expansion, a year after launching services with a single Hawker 800XP midsize business jet.
The Abu Dhabi-based luxury operator is planning to add five aircraft to the one-model line-up before the end of June, in a bid to exploit the growing demand for short haul services around the Middle East.
New additions will include three Embraer Phenom business jets – two entry-level 100s and one 300 light-twin – and two Cessna 208 Caravan single-engined turboprops.
“Sky Limo had a slow start,” says AJA chief operating officer Mark Pierotti. “Despite our huge expectations for the service in January 2015, the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council countries] – where VIP airliners are commonplace – just wasn’t ready for a service like this.”
However, the market has shifted significantly since the third quarter of last year, he says, and many passengers – particularly in the United Arab Emirates – are now seeing the benefit of chartering small, cost-efficient aircraft on shorter routes.
“We are now looking to add another midsize type – ideally a Legacy 500/600 – to give us the extra range and seats,” he adds.
Meanwhile, AJA is continuing to seek investment to help fund its move into maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities. “There is so much demand for MRO services in the Middle East,” Pierotti says. “Many owners are forced to take their business aircraft abroad, as there aren't enough facilities in the region to support the fleet.”
The privately-owned company, which also operates a 19-seat Airbus A318 Elite+ and Embraer Lineage 1000, is looking for $13 million to build a 300m<sup>2</sup> (3,230ft<sup>2</sup>) MRO facility at its Al Bateen executive airport base. It plans to offer services on a broad range of aircraft, including VIP airliners and traditional business jets.