Lineage takes ExecuJet to new level

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A number of new managed aircraft have joined the UAE-based ExecuJet fleet during the last year, including a Challenger 850 in October and a Lineage 1000 in January.

The Embraer, the largest aircraft under the company’s management, takes its total to 22. It is configured with 19 VIP seats and will be based in Dubai to complement ExecuJet’s existing charter offering, which now runs from the Hawker 800XP and the Learjet 60 to the Challenger 605, Falcon 900DX, Challenger 850 and G5000.

Six of the fleet are partially managed, with Execujet simply looking after their airworthiness and maintenance requirements, while the rest are fully managed. For these the company provides comprehensive services including crewing and flight planning, together with organising charters for additional revenue.

Established for more than 10 years in the Middle East, ExecuJet was one of the first independents there. It is based at Dubai International but has built a customer base right across the region.

Mike Berry, MD ExecuJet in the Middle East, says: “Dubai’s geographical location, positive tax environment, wealth density and excellent infrastructure for the aviation sector have proven to be significant contributing factors in the recovery and growth of the business aviation sector.”

Aircraft sales in the region have been very active. The entire business community in Dubai was impacted by its financial crisis two years ago, Berry says. Although the emirate has restructured its debts and recovery is underway, some companies took delivery of new aircraft they had ordered in happier times and placed them straight back on the market, seeking to offload assets following the downturn.

The ExecuJet maintenance facility in Dubai has tripled its capacity over the last year with the addition of a new hangar. ExecuJet has become a prominent third party and independent MRO provider for business jets, supporting a wide range of OEMs and and now employing more than 135 maintenance personnel. The company announced at the Dubai Airshow that it had won this year’s Bombardier Authorised Service Facility award for excellence in the international category.

A refurbished Dubai FBO was also on the up in 2011, with a 20% increase in aircraft movements in the last quarter. ExecuJet handled more than 300 movements per month and says all countries in the region were active, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar notably busy.

Other than the closure of Libyan airspace for several months and the need to adjust services to Egypt and Bahrain at the height of local unrest there, Berry reports limited impact from the Arab Spring. “The UAE is now seen as a safe haven,” he says.

However, the breakneck growth of Dubai International, in particular the fast-expanding operations of Emirates and flydubai, is constricting expansion there. The new Dubai World Central Airport 40km away in Jebel Ali, the first phase of which opened in 2010, is designed to alleviate some of the pressure and Berry says the long-term plan is for general aviation to migrate there.

In another key announcement at the Dubai Air Show, ExecuJet and National Air Services (NAS Holding) represented by its private aviation arm NasJet, detailed plans to enter a strategic partnership. They will together operate the new FBO at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, plus other potential future FBOs.

NasJet operates a fleet of 18 private aircraft, and manages 60 more. While it is not a regulatory requirement, it makes pure commercial sense for ExecuJet to operate in partnership with a company of this standing in the Saudi market, Berry says. “By forming a joint venture with NAS Holding we have won a partner with a deep understanding of the Middle East private aviation landscape and a large captive client base given its position as the leader in Middle East private aviation.”

KKIA’s existing FBO facility urgently needed replacing and a new private aviation terminal will be built by early to mid 2013, Berry says. Two new licences were awarded, to ExecuJet and Saudia Private Aviation, which will make four operators including incumbents Jet Aviation and Arabasco.

The NAS-ExecuJet consortium will occupy an initial 1,500sq metres in the facility. A third partner is another NAS subsidiary, ground service provider NAGS, while Nastech and Lufthansa Technik will offer FBO clients maintenance on most private aviation aircraft types and models.

Bilen Air Service attracted 14 new foreign operators to its FBO at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport in the first two months after going into partnership with ExecuJet Middle East. This generated a 30% increase in movements and Bilen president Hakan Celt is looking for a 50% increase in monthly traffic volume by the end of March.

The general aviation ramp at Atatürk offers only limited parking space. Bilen recently added 1,500sq metres of hangar space including aircraft parking, 12 storage units and 14 business rooms. The facility, which also offers private crew rest quarters, is located in front of the single taxiway with direct access to the GA terminal