On Tuesday, April 8, Royal Jet President and CEO, Shane O’Hare, called for a commercial-airline style global alliance for the worldwide private aviation sector.
The Royal Jet CEO emphasised the private jet market should closely look at the development of global alliances among operators, along similar lines to those in the commercial airline sector. He says that regional growth in private jet travel would need to be supported by more high-quality fixed-base operation and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
O’Hare claims that commercial airlines and private jet operators can co-exist, especially since private flights can help customers to fly on scheduled airlines to destinations they don’t have routes for.
O’Hare also predicted that the regional market for private jet travel would grow at six to eight per cent in the region this year and in 2015, with Royal Jet itself forecasting approximately six per cent growth in 2014. Both figures are well ahead of the four per cent to five per cent annual growth forecast for business jet travel predicted by the Honeywell Global Business Aviation Forecast and the Bombardier market forecast.
Quoting the Honeywell report, he says in the past five years growth the Middle East region and Africa was seven per cent and is expected to contribute four per cent of the global demand over the next five years. He also states that there is a strong preference of large-cabin and long-range jets, accounting for the largest share of revenues (45 per cent) over the next 20 years.
O’Hare adds that there is a need to take into account the requirements of VIP customers when planning airport investment and infrastructure. “Major airports need to either encourage private investment in the development of improved fixed-base operation facilities or invest in their own infrastructure as this sector grows,” he says.
“Some major airports process VIP private jet customers through airline terminals, which defeats the primary reasons for private jet travel: speed, security and privacy. Even the provision of adequate parking for business jets needs to be factored into investment plans. The development of the region’s only dedicated executive jet airport at Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi is a proof point of the UAE capital’s recognition of the need for private aviation sector growth to be aligned with its aviation pillar within the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 strategy. Royal Jet too will extend its operational base to Al Bateen at the end of 2015, in addition to maintaining its FBO at Abu Dhabi International Airport as part of its long-term commitment to the industry,” adds O’Hare.
O’Hare predicts more consolidation at the smaller end of the private aviation sector due to competitive pressure. At the higher end of the market, the quality of product and service delivery will determine which companies survive and thrive, he says.
“Some people believe the private jet industry is driven by price, but I believe that the keys to success are product and service. Price is a factor, certainly, but the future belongs to operators that excel at product and service delivery,” he concludes.