Qatar Airways staked its claim to a share of the region's lucrative corporate charter market and underlined its aspirations as a major international player yesterday when it signed a deal to buy two Bombardier Global Express long-range business jets, with options on two more.

The order, worth $180 million assuming acquisition of all four is completed, "gives the State of Qatar a fitting flagship for VIPs attending to international responsibilities" said Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

It also gives Qatar Airways a slice of the projected $1 billion Middle East market for corporate air charter.

The aircraft will be leased to the Amiri flight "when it has shortages"; the rest of the time they will allow Qatar Airways, the world's fastest growing airline, to offer VIP flights to businesses in the region.

Here in Dubai to sign the deal was Peter Edwards, president Bombardier Business Aircraft.

"Qatar is at the vanguard of expansion by airlines into the business aviation air charter business," he said. "We're very excited by this launch programme and delighted that Qatar has chosen to use the Bombardier Global Express for its VIP/on demand services."

He admits that such a move into the business charter market by national flag carriers creates a whole new market for the manufacturers of corporate aircraft.

The two Global Expresses, which will be configured to seat 14 passengers, will operate out of Doha International Airport.


Al Baker admits that despite the 2.7 million passengers it carried last year – and projections of 3.3 million in the year to come – Qatar is still a long way from being profitable.

"The model we work on assumes 10 years of operations before the airline shows a profit. Come back in three years to ask me if we're making a profit," he says.

Qatar Airways' move follows Abu Dhabi-based Royal Jet's arrival earlier in the year in the commercial business aviation charter market with ambitious growth palns. Royal Jet chief executive Tilmann Gabriel welcomes the competition. "It's competition in the sense that it helps to grow the infrastructure and develop the market."

Source: Flight Daily News