Business jet charters take flight to recovery

Business charters in the region are seeing more inquiries for block hours from corporate clients. (GETTY IMAGES)

The regional market for business jet charters is witnessing strong recovery, according to a leading operator that recorded 11 per cent rise in charter sales in January.

Empire Aviation Group (EAG) that manages and operates the Middle East's largest mixed fleet of 21 business aircraft, yesterday said the January performance follows strong recovery achieved in the fourth quarter of 2009. Bookings had dropped around 40 per cent in the first half of last year, an official release said.

The statement quoted Paras Dhamecha, Executive Director, Empire Aviation Group, as saying enquiries for "block hours" from corporate clients have been on the rise this year. Corporate clients block flying hours on routes frequently flown to benefit from early purchase.

In January, the operator chartered flights to destinations in the Far East, CIS countries, Africa, Maldives, South America, Afghanistan and Iraq. The statement added the Middle East continues to dominate the charter market as the favoured point of departure to global destinations and also as a favourite destination.

Charter demand is a good indicator of the health of the overall private aviation sector. "This segment of our business allows us to showcase our aircraft and the benefits of business jet ownership," Dhamecha said.

Another factor that brings relief to charter operators is that aircraft finance is becoming easier again to obtain, he said.

Hence, the buying option is becoming realistic, and with aircraft values still depressed, there is an increasingly attractive opportunity for those seriously considering purchase.

There are around 45 private business jets operating out of Dubai and more than 500 in the Middle East – mostly in Saudi Arabia – under private ownership for personal use. There is no official charter market value for the Middle East.

 

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