Qatar Executive, the corporate jet division launched by Qatar Airways in 2009, is looking to develop beyond the immediate Middle East region.
The division currently operates a six-strong Bombardier fleet comprising three Challenger 605s, two Global 5000s and an ultra-longhaul Global 6000 (the former XRS). Their average age is just one year – making them, according to Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, the youngest business aircraft in the Gulf.
Explaining the logic of a network airline operating its own executive charter arm, Al Baker says: “We leverage the parent company’s huge sales and marketing network support. Qatar Airways’ expertise with aircraft and engine manufacturers is a further advantage, when we buy business jets and negotiate warranties and maintenance support.”
Al Baker professes himself “exceptionally pleased with our results this year”, but wants to do much more. “We will expand further into existing markets like Russia and other important European countries, as well as the rapidly emerging markets of China, south-east Asia and India.
“For Qatar Airways’ first and business class passengers, there is a natural synergy in transferring customers onto our corporate business aircraft to their final destinations, which in many cases are not served by scheduled airlines. This is a market we are increasingly tapping into,” Al Baker says.
“We cater to everyone from executives and board members of larger corporations, who have to reach remote and sometimes multiple destinations in the shortest time, to private high net worth individuals who may wish to invite their family and friends to spend the weekend in a luxury resort in the Maldives.
“Our business jets are also popular among government delegations and politicians, since we offer VIP safety and security as well as absolute confidentiality and discretion.”
As well as its own six aircraft, Qatar Executive is also responsible for chartering out larger group aircraft to clients such as sports teams.
The division employs a dedicated flight deck crew of almost 50. “All our pilots and flight attendants are trained to Qatar Airways’ standards, with simulator visits twice per year,” Al Baker says. “Our aircraft are maintained by our own maintenance organisation.”
While its core business is aircraft charter, Qatar Executive offers a full suite of services ranging from aircraft management and maintenance to FBO services such as fuel supply, cleaning and hangarage.
Facilities at the existing Doha International hub include an airport VIP terminal in addition to Qatar Airways’ own dedicated premium terminal. Qatar Executive’s maintenance operation there, based in a 6,400sq metre hangar, serves Qatar Executive and other private jet operators as an approved Bombardier service facility, and can serve all the manufacturer’s aircraft flying into Doha.
Construction of what Qatar Executive describes as “the most prestigious FBO in the Middle East” is underway at the New Doha International Airport, which is set to open later this year.
Recent research suggests that Qatar was one of the fastest growing countries in the Middle East in terms of business jet growth (see previous pages). This growth rate can be maintained into the future, Al Baker insists.
“There is huge potential in Qatar and the region. All our aircraft are well booked and demand is fuelled by world-class events Qatar is hosting such as the Tribeca Film Festival, the World Petroleum Congress and major sport spectacles like the Arab Games.
“However, most of our business comes through our strong relationships with international brokers, so we do not solely depend on the local Qatari market,” he adds.
- CAE announced at the Dubai Airshow that it has signed a long-term agreement to provide Qatar Executive with pilot training services on the Global 6000 and Challenger 605 at Emirates-CAE Flight Training (ECFT), close to Dubai International Airport.
“Private aircraft operated in the Arab world are set to triple over the next 10 years so there will be a growing need for training and maintenance support,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said at the event. “To meet this growing demand, it is essential for us to acquire the best possible quality training for our crew.”
As anchor customer, Qatar Executive pilots will be the first to train on the new Challenger 605 full-flight simulator as soon as regulators certify it. Training on the Global 6000 has already begun. ECFT, jointly operated by the Emirates Group and CAE, will take pilots through initial and recurrent courses as well as providing various advanced airmanship and e-learning options.
Arabian Jets, the private aircraft management company based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has also entered into a long-term agreement with CAE for pilot training services on eight business aircraft types at ECFT.
The company manages aircraft including the Bombardier Challenger 300 and Challenger 850, Gulfstream G-IV and G550, and Hawker Beechcraft Beechjet 400, Hawker 900XP, King Air C90/B200 and King Air 350.
As well as its corporate office in Jeddah, Arabian Jets has satellite offices in Dubai, Cairo, Amman (Jordan), Beirut (Lebanon) and London. It offers engineering and maintenance services in addition to aircraft management.