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Read our latest feature:   Show issue: MEBAA
Middle East expansion sees Gama add first Airbus
Gama Group is to expand its services into Saudi Arabia by opening a base in Jeddah during 2012. It has formed a joint venture with local company Imitiaz under the name Gama Aviation, and this will specialise in aircraft management and aim to operate charter services under its own Saudi air operator's certificate.

Gama Group is to expand its services into Saudi Arabia by opening a base in Jeddah during 2012. It has formed a joint venture with local company Imitiaz under the name Gama Aviation, and this will specialise in aircraft management and aim to operate charter services under its own Saudi air operator's certificate.

The next step will be to add aircraft maintenance and consultancy services, replicating the company's expertise in Europe, USA and elsewhere in the Middle East. Gama Aviation's first base will be at Jeddah's King Abdulaziz international airport where it will employ around five people in the start-up phase. It will be overseen by regional md Dave Edwards.

"This is a significant announcement for Gama and is the culmination of a substantial period of planning and negotiation," said ceo Marwan Abdel Khalek. "We are delighted to have Imitiaz as our strategic partner in this venture, which will bring to Gama many years of experience in the Kingdom. Breaking into the important Saudi market is a huge achievement and a long-held wish."

Gama Group set up in Sharjah and Dubai three years ago, and obtained its UAE air operator's certificate in February 2010. This operation now supports 25 staff and five managed aircraft at both Sharjah International and Dubai International airports, including an Airbus ACJ318 which joined the fleet in October.

Configured with a 14-seat vip configuration, the ACJ is now the largest aircraft in the company's Middle East fleet and its 11th manufacturer type globally. It is being operated and managed on behalf of a private owner, based in Sharjah.

Gama Aviation is on track to obtain its UAE CAR 145 maintenance approval and is working to complete a hangar facility at Sharjah, which will also be home to a new FBO.

"Our new Sharjah facilities will afford our customers significant cost benefits. Sharjah is also a great fuel stop destination between east and west," says Dave Edwards. Further expansion is planned with bases in Beirut and Hong Kong.

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