Competition between Middle East operators is now less price-based and more focused on service, to the benefit of both client and operator, according to Empire Aviation Group.
The company's charter division reports that it is continuing to perform strongly. Executive director Paras Dhamecha says: "EAG's recent charter passenger mix was heavily skewed towards leisure, reflecting the seasonal demand, while business charter continued but at a lower level.
"Many of our seasonal charter clients were from outside the UAE – mainly from Russia and Saudi Arabia, with Indian and Swedish clients also prominent. Our most popular charter aircraft were the Embraer Legacy 600 and the Hawker 900XP – both of which offer a lot of space and comfort to larger groups and families travelling on holiday, with a full service area and crew of three."
Increasing demand for charter flights means more competition among operators: "After a relatively slow period for the charter business, demand is now returning and clients are looking for value for money and service. This suits us very well as we have a strong focus on customer service, which is vital in an industry that caters to a highly demanding clientele and where word of mouth and personal recommendation is critical," adds Dhamecha.
"We see this as a healthy development and as charter demand returns to the region, we can see that the private aviation industry has developed and matured, with a growing number of private jets positioned in the region.
"Private jet charter is increasingly regarded as a business service or a leisure service with real functional benefits rather than an expensive luxury and this all points to a very positive future for jet charter in the region."
Leisure charters dominated the recent festive season as families headed for the Indian Ocean while the business charter travellers took a break. As demand returns, charter rates have firmed and service has become the main differentiating factor for clients in selecting their preferred operator, EAG says.
Top of the seasonal jet charter destinations were the Maldives and Seychelles, followed by Ankara/Istanbul and Phuket, with CIS destinations also proving popular. Around 75 per cent of EAG's seasonal charter flights were for leisure.
Empire Aviation Group says it operates the Middle East's largest managed fleet of private jets from its base at Dubai International Airport, with around 20 jets under management on behalf of their owners, several of which are available for charter. EAG offers private jet charter, charter brokerage services anywhere in the world, and medical evacuation.