Saudia Private Aviation, the business aviation services arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, is planning to expand its fixed-based operator brand within the oil rich kingdom and internationally and has earmarked London, Paris and strategic US cities as potential locations.
SPA says Saudi Arabia's homegrown wealthy elite and business community account for the bulk of its business. However, it says, an increasing number of business travellers and wealthy individuals from Europe and the US are using SPA's services. "By having FBO's at airports that are frequently used by our customers, we can control their travel experience from start to finish and keep them in the SPA family," says SPA manager Fahad Abdullah Al Rashed.
SPA has an FBO in Riyadh, but is planning to build a new facility in the Saudi capital by 2016 in response to the growing competition at King Khalid International airport from other resident providers Arabasco, ExecuJet/NasJet and Jet Aviation.
Last month SPA opened an FBO at its home base of Jeddah and expects to build new FBOs in Medina and Dammam within two years. "As well as Saudi Arabia we are looking to have a presence at Le Bourget, Paris, and at a key London airport. We could do this alone or in partnership with another FBO provider or operator. We are also looking with interest at the US market," he adds.
SPA manages a fleet of 28 business aircraft and owns 10 jets - four long-range Dassault Falcon 7Xs and six light-cabin Hawker 400s. Charter demand - particularly for the 7X - is very strong, Al Rashed says. "Each 7X is flying 650h a year - that is a 100% increase on the previous year," he says.
More on the Middle East business aviation market at flightglobal.com/bizavmideast