Doha-based Qatar Executive insists that it will uphold its longstanding loyalty to Bombardier, despite placing orders for 20 Gulfstream jets at the latter end of 2014.
Executive vp David Edwards has also been keeping a close eye on recent company amalgamations in Europe, but says the Middle East, and his company in particular, is unlikely to follow suit. “We are positioned a little bit differently to other operators because we are part of one of the leading airlines in the region. So in terms of scale, we are already at the stage which we are seeing in Europe,” he comments. “But around the world, whether the operator is small or large, everybody has been talking about consolidation, and I think that in light of where the market is at the moment, you need numbers to make your businesses work.
“If I was a small operator I would be looking at other ways of making my business bigger with mergers. But that is slightly different from us. Because we are part of a leading airline, we are already there in terms of how we are positioned.”
In the run up to last year's NBAA, Qatar Executive announced its intention to purchase 20 Gulfstream aircraft, including the G650ER and all new G500, and Edwards states that this forms part of a 'new fleet' initiative: “We always said we wanted to keep our fleet young, and so it is quite an exciting time coming up.
“Bombardier have been very good to us over the last five years, and we have enjoyed a very good relationship with them. We continue to enjoy good relationships with them, including our ASF in Doha, which looks after Challenger and Global aircraft. We will continue to operate Bombardier products and we took delivery of two brand new Global 5000 Visions in 2014.
“Nonetheless Gulfstream have amazing products. I think in particular the G500 with the speeds it does sets it in a different league to the other aircraft that are out there.
“We have gone back to the customers and asked them what they are looking for in the aircraft. All of our customers wanted time which is, after all, what business aviation is about. It's time savings. It's how quickly you can get there. The 5000 will cruise at 0.90 all the way to London from Doha or Dubai, so we've already got one of the fastest aircraft in that class. The G650 is a 0.87 aircraft to the east coast and almost half way into the US. These are leaps and bounds ahead now, in terms of technology.”
Edwards is optimistic about the upcoming demand in the region, with Expo 2020 and the 2022 football world cup both on the horizon and likely to drive plenty of traffic, and he is also aware of increasing buoyancy in the business aviation market generally.
He concludes: “It is a positive time, after a few years which were not so positive. It has been a tough market for a long time, but if you look at our competitors they are starting to look at new fleets, while we have announced what we are doing. There is quite a lot of change coming up, and we are all confident that there will be opportunity for us out there to keep growing.
“I think the Middle East is going to feature, along with the States, for the next round of increases in business aviation.”
The operator is also adding an Airbus A319 to its corporate jet fleet. The Premium One A319 will be available for charter from the middle of this month and has 40 seats in a single aisle, two-two seating configuration, and a range of up to 3,700 nm. The seats recline and convert into 79-inch beds, and are equipped with power outlets, wi-fi, USB port, audio sockets and LED lighting.
The inflight Oryx entertainment system features over 1,000 choices of movies, music and games, and the chartered Premium One service also includes access to executive airport facilities and concierge services in Doha and abroad.
Ceo Akbar Al Baker says: “The demand for charter services continues to grow and we have introduced this aircraft to further strengthen the proposition of Qatar Executive, which is providing convenience and choice in the category of private travel.”