"Business jets are necessary"
MEBAA president and CEO Ammar Balkar is urging investors to do more for the private jet market.
How do you see the business aviation market growing?
The business jet market is still in its infancy but because of lack of investment we are way behind Europe and this needs to be addressed.
What areas should be invested in?
Investors always seem to go for the operational side, but maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities are seriously lacking in the business aviation sector. The lack of MROs that are able to service different size aircraft cripples the manufacturers as they won’t sell aircraft that cannot be serviced. Operators are forced to set up MROs and fixed base operations (FBO) because they are missing in the region but I think companies should cater to provide one service and then no one steps on each other’s toes.
Why are investors reluctant to get involved in the jet sector?
Finance companies see business jets as toys and luxury products. Industry association, MEBAA is trying to change this viewpoint. Business jets are becoming necessary. It is similar to investing in building a tower, but instead it is a moveable asset. If something is happening elsewhere in the world you can move your jet to where it matters. In Europe and the US the sector has developed thanks to finance companies like Credit Suisse, Citibank and Royal Bank of Scotland and they have also invested in the Middle East market, but only because national banks here have not done enough.
Where is investment paying dividends?
Abu Dhabi Airport Company’s (ADAC) investment in a dedicated business jet airport at Al Bateen is an excellent idea and we need to see more of this. As a main aviation hub, I hope something similar will be on the Dubai government’s agenda.