“When we look at out our sales internationally, the Middle East is as good as anywhere to be selling airplanes,” Sean McGeough, president of the U.S. company’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations, told AMEInfo.com. “That’s primarily been driven by government sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon. We’ve been very fortunate during the downturn that we have airplanes that can offer special missions such as medivac and surveillance and border patrol.”
McGeough said that in the three years from 2008 to 2010, the company sold nearly four times as many aircraft in the Middle East as it did in the first five years of the decade. While he was not able to provide figures for last year, he said the company had ‘very strong sales” in 2011 despite the unrest in the region.
“I don’t think the Arab Spring hurt us. In some ways I think it elevated the profile of our products. If you look at the King Air and what they are used for in many parts of the world, they are very secure ways of moving people around the region,” he noted.
In the last five years, the Middle East has accounted for 22% of Hawker Beechcraft’s deliveries in the overall EMEA region, which represents a significant jump when compared to the previous five years, when the Middle East accounted for 7% of EMEA deliveries.
Looking ahead, the company is confident that the business aviation in the Middle East will see long-term growth due to a heightened focus on privacy and security, strong economic development in the region, greater diversification of the region’s wealth around the world, and the need for new governments in the area to increase their international exposure.
The company’s increased focus on the Middle East coincides with an industry-wide shift in sales outside of North America.
“When you look at the marketplaces outside of North America, the number of aircraft deliveries over the past five years have increased dramatically to the point five years ago 80% of all new aircraft deliveries were sold into North America, now in the last five years that pendulum has shifted to where as much as 70% of all new aircraft deliveries are to international marketplaces like here in the Middle East,” he noted.