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14 April 2024

Flight services by light airplanes are becoming more economical

Mohammed Zahran, Hydra Trading General Director. (SUPPLIED)

By Nadim Kawach

A new major aviation company has been launched in Abu Dhabi to meet the growing needs of companies and high-profile individuals. Hydra Aviation is taking advantage of the global economic crisis to provide more economical light aircraft services after a sharp rise in flight costs of big aircraft.

The company, with a paid up capital of $25 million (Dh92m) began operations just before the end of 2008 and it will cover sale of small aircraft, lease, single or regular flight services and provision of spare parts and maintenance to various types of airplanes.

The Abu Dhabi-based Hydra Trading has teamed up with Air Touring Group of Britain to create this venture, which, owners say, is the first of its kind in the UAE in terms of market penetration.

"We have this experience because we in Hydra are already providing spare parts of most types of civilian and military jets," Hydra Trading General Director Mohammed Zahran told Emirates Business in an interview.

Hydra Aviation and Air Touring CEO, Michael Pearce, saw in the global crisis as a chance for the company to thrive. "Don't forget that with the global economic crisis, flight services by large aircraft are becoming more and more expensive while those by light airplanes are becoming more economical… For this reason, we expect strong activity," he said in an interview with Emirates Business.

How and when was Hydra Aviation set up?

Zahran: The company was created as a joint venture between Hydra Trading and Britain's Air Touring Group before the end of last year with a capital of $25m. It is now operational.

What about its activities?

Zahran: It will be involved in selling aircraft to individuals and companies in the UAE, other Gulf countries and beyond the Gulf. The company will also be involved in leasing aircraft as well as maintenance of some planes and providing spare parts for the aircraft we supply and other airplanes.

Do you have enough experience in this business?

Zahran: We have this experience because we in Hydra Trading are providing spare parts of most types of civilian and military jets… we are leaders in defence business in this region and are also the main supplier of spare parts, maintenance and other services to military aircraft of the UAE Armed Forces. We are also exclusive dealers for most of the UAE army vehicles and tanks and I can tell you that we supply the UAE Armed Forces with at least 25 per cent of the spare parts and services for the French-made Lecerc tanks bought by the UAE some years ago… Hydra is also a major supplier of services and spare parts of the Russian-built BMP-3 tanks… the UAE Army has nearly 800 of these tanks, more than two-thirds of the BMP-3 tanks in service around the world.

 Where is this company based and what markets it will target?

Zahran: It is based in Abu Dhabi and will target high-profile individuals and companies whether by selling civilian aircraft or leasing them. We will also try to ensure quick flight services for those who request them. Such services could be for personal or business purposes.

When did you sign the contract and how did you think about it?

Pearce: The agreement to create this venture was signed on December 24. Hydra Trading selected us because we have the experience as we exclusive distributors of some types of aircraft through Europe.

Can you provide a brief idea on its business?

Pearce: The activities of this new venture will cover sale of aircraft, leasing, providing of spare parts and advanced repair and maintenance services. Sales could include businessmen, companies and government establishments. We will cover the entire Gulf and other areas. Our experience will allow us to become major distributors of aircraft and flight services. Of course I am talking about small aircraft while flight services could include one way, round or shuttle trips in the region or with other areas of the world. You can say we are the first company of its kind in the UAE in terms of experience and knowledge of this field and in terms of market penetration.

Do you think there will be enough demand for your services?

Pearce: I can't comment on business now because the company is being established. But we expect strong demand for our services. Don't forget that with the global economic crisis, flight services by large aircraft are becoming more and more expensive while those by light airplanes are becoming more economical. For this reason, we expect strong activity whether in flight services, lease or sale of aircraft.

Hydra trading

Established in 1990, Hydra Trading is one of the largest investment companies in the Middle East and Africa. Initially, Hydra Trading was primarily focusing on supplies and services of security and armaments' equipment for both civilian and military sectors. With the explosive opportunities in the region, Hydra expanded its focus to include technology, construction, infrastructure and alternative energy.