Qatar-based charter operator Rizon Jet has accused the country's civil aviation authority - and, indirectly, flag carrier Qatar Airways - of "unfair competition" by creating "hindrances that make it impossible to sustain a viable business".
In a public statement unprecedented in the Gulf aviation world - where such differences tend to be settled behind closed doors - Rizon chief executive Capt Hassan Al-Mousawi says the authority is "creating obstacles" to its "progress to grow and excel" as an independent company at Doha International airport.
Al-Mousawi's anger hinges on the fact that Qatar Airways owns a rival charter business, Qatar Executive, as well as being the airport operator and having a monopoly on ground handling through its subsidiary Qatar Aviation Services.
Among Al-Mousawi's claims are that - despite granting an operating certificate to Rizon in 2009 as the country's only independent aviation company - the authority has banned Rizon from permitting third parties from using its VIP terminal at Doha International. "This explicitly violates the initial approval of [the prime minister], granted in February 2009," he says.
Qatar-based charter operator Rizon Jet has accused the country's civil aviation authority - and, indirectly, flag carrier Qatar Airways - of "unfair competition"
Al-Mousawi also says the authority has turned down Rizon's applications for a travel agency licence and to offer third-party flight support services.
Al-Mousawi says Rizon has "tried to resolve the issues on an amicable basis, but now we have to speak up", adding: "If it is a level playing field, then competition is okay, but this is uneven. We are all for clean, healthy competition but in Qatar we have a world-class airline that also owns a private jet business, enjoys a monopoly on ground handling, as well as being the airport operator."
The ban on Rizon offering third-party services has affected "50% of our FBO [fixed-base operations] revenue", he says. "That might not be a big deal for a multibillion-dollar company like our competitor's parent company, but for us it makes a huge difference. We are a Qatari-owned company and we would like to be given the opportunity to build a viable business in Qatar."
Rizon Jet, which is owned by Qatari holding company Ghanim bin Saad Al Saad, was founded in 2006 and offers a range of business aviation services, including charter and FBOs in Doha and Biggin Hill, London.
Qatar Executive, launched in 2009, operates an all-Bombardier Global and Challenger fleet.
Qatar Airways declined to comment and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority could not be reached for comment.
Read about the expansion of business aviation hubs in the Middle East at flightglobal.com/bizavmiddleeast