A new generation of business aviation is taking a step forward in Saudi Arabia
Despite five years of official disfavor for the business aviation sector, Saudi Arabia’s operators are moving forward.
“It’s a very exciting time in Saudi Arabia because we’re seeing a big push to expand general aviation, private business aviation in the kingdom,” said Yosef Hafeez, vice president of commercial sales and marketing for NasJet, based in Erbil. Riyadh. AINin recognition of the role of the country’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
“GACA is listening. GACA was actually hosting general aviation operators at their headquarters and saying, “Hey guys, what do you need to do to make your life easier?” What do you need to improve?” They listen. You see a change happening inside and we feel it. We are excited about this and hope that these changes will happen soon, because in order to achieve Vision 2030, these changes must happen. You have to get them involved. So let’s see.”
However, he acknowledged that the pressure on business jet operators to keep their heads down after the Ritz Carlton detentions in November 2017 had not yet fully eased. “It’s a very fluid market and people seem to be very motivated to own and buy aircraft,” he said. “However, we see that people still do not want to be on the radar screen. They don’t want to be seen. They’re just a little, I don’t want to say, scary, but they’re more careful in buying a product that suits them.”
NasJet’s fleet remains around the 18-plane mark. “There are newcomers to the market,” he said. “We don’t see the industry as we would like to see Boeing Business Jets. In the past, Boeing had 30 or 35 aircraft based here in Saudi Arabia, and they still feel there is a lot of demand for the BBJ. The Airbus ACJ will be the same.”
As evidence of the trend toward smaller aircraft, NasJet is in the process of adding the Pilatus PC-24 to its fleet. “We are the first aircraft management company in the kingdom to add the PC-24 to the operator’s specification,” he said. “It will be classified as private. It is privately owned and is the very first aircraft registered in Aruba to be added to the private category office in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a very light small business jet and it’s perfect for his needs. It flies domestically, all the way to London and back; he doesn’t mind stopping once or twice along the way. Now we are seeing a new generation and new people interested in chartering. Demand for charters has grown exponentially. There are not enough aircraft on the market to meet this demand.”
Explaining the progress of the Saudi market, Hafiz came back to a topic he had previously studied: the licensing of aircraft operations in the kingdom. In 2018, Saudi owners were presented with two options: either join a company that holds an operator certificate (OC) in the private category for personal use but not for hire under GACA Part 125, or add the aircraft to an operator certificate (AOC) . ), a commercial certificate under GACA Part 121 special unscheduled operations.
“There are two options,” he said. “It’s either A or B. There’s no C or D; there is nothing else. That’s all. We have both. We have OC and AOC. If you want to really spice things up, it’s also good to have a GACA Part 145 MRO Repair Station Permit. You can then take advantage of that and serve your customers while working on the aircraft and making extra income.”
He said operators were happy with the move as GACA better monitors the environment and adopts new rules that eliminate, or at least reduce, gray, meaning illegal, charters.
“Obviously, operational control rests with the operator, not the owner of the aircraft,” he said. “It is very interesting to see that the changes bear fruit. They force the new planes to be based in Saudi Arabia. How do they find it so grounded? He comes in and out maybe more than seven times a year. It has been sitting here for more than three days in a row. It is considered to be based in Saudi Arabia.’
Hafiz said that business aviation is developing in the field of creating new special airports. A new commercial airport is planned to be built at Neom Bay, freeing up the existing facility for business aviation. A dedicated business aviation airport will also be built in Amaal, another major project on the Red Sea coast.
“They have another one, a military airport, in Mecca, which is used mainly to land high-ranking members of the royal family, not for the general public. [GACA are] I am thinking about converting it into a business or general aviation airport,” he said. “There may be another one somewhere in Riyadh.”
Today, with only Saudia Private Aviation (SPA) and Jet Aviation designated as FBO operators in Saudi Arabia, Hafeez said the GACA 2030 vision calls for adding new blood. “They are looking for private investors to come into the kingdom — people and FBOs with experience and know-how. It will be a joint venture, likely with private investors, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and airport operator Matarat Holding. Matarat transferred the land to the FBO; GACA will issue a work license,” he said.
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2022-12-05/new-generation-bizav-steps-forward-saudi-arabia A new generation of business aviation is taking a step forward in Saudi Arabia