Royal Jet, which claims the distinction of being the world's largest Boeing Business Jet operator with five BBJs, has begun an intensive cabin crew recruitment drive to service strategic expansion.
Shane O'Hare, Royal Jet's president and ceo, says the Royal Jet fleet has grown from eight to 13 aircraft including a vip helicopter in the past year. A fleet of 25 aircraft is envisaged.
"Further aircraft acquisitions are currently being identified and negotiated," he adds: "Each of our BBJs is typically flying around 1,300 hours each year. They are based all over the world, not limiting themselves purely to local markets. They can be found in Africa, China, India, North America and Europe and are a highly popular and cost-effective choice for businesses."
O'Hare says the acquisition of a fifth BBJ was financed by First Gulf Bank. "This is the second such financing deal that Royal Jet has made with FGB," he discloses. FGB had been selected out of five competing proposals because it was the most competitive in terms of pricing and flexibility and due to its fast turnaround of loan documentation.
Royal Jet is broadening its client offering with the acquisition of two twin-engine Learjet 35. "The Learjet will be the preferred aircraft for inter-regional and same-day travel as well as for servicing personalised Haj and Umra demand," says O'Hare.
It has, he points out, a maximum range of 2000 n.m., and can fly for up to four hours on a single fuelling at speeds of up to 530mph and altitudes of up to 45,000 ft. "All Middle Eastern destinations can therefore easily be reached from any airport in the Gulf."
There will be a choice of configurations of from four to six seats. "We expect big demand from executives who want to get to business meetings in more than one location in a single day. These locations
might include Dubai, Bahrain, Riyadh and Kuwait in combinations that would be impossible by scheduled commercial airlines."
He pledges: "The aircraft can be booked and ready to leave within two hours of a client's request - notwith-standing that some routes obviously need longer for obtaining government and air traffic control clearance."
Royal Jet also plans to utilise one of the Learjets for medical evacuation services. "The Learjet's lower operating costs brings the price down to below the insurance ceiling for most medical insurance plans," says O'Hare. The expansion currently means constant recruitment.
"Our recruitment is ongoing as we expand to service growing aviation-on-demand markets both within the Middle East and beyond."
Royal Jet's policy is to recruit experienced staff and put them through intensive training. "We are aware of the need to consistently set service benchmarks as competition in the market intensifies," says O'Hare.
The first batch of recruits are receiving in-depth training with major focuses including emergency safety procedures and gourmet meal preparation designed to give a full understanding of international cuisine as well as cultural, dietary and religious requirements.
Royal Jet, which was prominent in pioneering business aviation within the UAE back in 2003, says its BBJ
fleet, derivatives of the 737-700 series, can be arranged in multiple configurations to carry between 36 and 52 passengers.
"The configurations include the option of having a private bedroom aboard, a conference/dining area, and a living area," says CFO Ramzi Zaroubi. "The BBJ has a maximum range of 5,500 nautical miles - about 10 hours flying time."
Royal Jet reported a 60 per cent increase in charter services revenue last year. "This BBJ addition will be subject to high demand like all its earlier companion aircraft and will allow us to successfully grow out business regionally and internationally," Ramzi adds.