Qatar Airways has announced it has purchased two Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft in a deal worth US$90 million as part of plans to further develop its 12-month old corporate jet subsidiary, Qatar Executive.
The new business jets are scheduled for delivery in October 2010 and August 2011 – and will join three Bombardier Challenger jets currently operating within the Doha-based Qatar Executive fleet.
Announcing the order on the opening day of the Farnborough Air Show today, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker also hinted at possible further acquisitions as the airline continues to take advantage of the Middle East region’s growing corporate jet market.
“We launched Qatar Executive last year because we had identified a huge gap in the market and are now well on the way to filling that void,” said Al Baker, adding that the corporate jet division formed part of the airline’s robust growth strategy worldwide.
“The additional capacity and non-stop range capabilities of the Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft allows us to offer increased flexibility to our customers.
“Despite the current global economic climate, there remains a strong need for corporations to conduct face to face business meetings in the shortest possible time and with a hassle-free travel experience.”
With a flying range of up to 5,200 nautical miles, the 13-seater Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft will have the longest range of any of the jets currently in the Qatar Executive fleet. These aircraft can fly to destinations as far as Hong Kong non-stop from Doha. **
The Qatar Executive fleet currently comprises two Bombardier Challenger 605 jets featuring 11 seats, and the eight-seater Challenger 300 aircraft.
The new aircraft will feature high class specification interiors offering passengers the comforts of luxury travel – working, relaxing and sleeping inflight.
Added Al Baker: “At Qatar Airways, we are responding to the sustained regional demand to have larger private jets available to our corporate customers. Our passengers are paying a premium to fly privately and at their leisure, so this is a market segment that we are keen to develop since entering this sector 12 months ago.
“While low cost carriers in the region are pushing budget travel, we are doing the opposite and targeting high end travellers. Qatar Executive has been operating extremely successfully since we officially launched Qatar Executive at the Paris Air Show last summer.”
The two additional Bombardier aircraft will be based in Doha and can operate non-stop to anywhere in Europe, as well as most places in Asia and Africa. All Qatar Executive jets can reach North America with a fuel stop in Europe.
The corporate jet market in the Middle East has grown at an average of 13 per cent a year since 2000. Nine years ago, there were 200 corporate jets based in the Middle East, more than doubling in size to 450 in 2008 with estimates of further growth over the next few years.
The Middle East corporate jet market alone is estimated to be worth between US$500 million and US$700 million a year.
Individual wealth within the Gulf region is expected to grow by over 50 per cent during the 2008 – 2012 period, up from US$2.1 trillion to around US$3.8 trillion, according to statistics provided by international management consultancy firm Oliver Wyman.
Ranked Five Star for service and excellence, Qatar Airways was recently voted third best airline in the world following the annual Skytrax survey of 18 million international passengers. In the survey, the airline was also voted as having the Best Business Class Catering in the world, as well as being honoured as the Best Airline in The Middle East for the fifth consecutive year.
Qatar Airways also became the first airline to receive the Staff Service Excellence Award for the Middle East in the Skytrax survey. The new award replaces the Best Cabin Staff in the Middle East category, which Qatar Airways has won for the past seven years. The expanded category now includes airline staff at all passenger touch points, including onboard, reservations, check-in and airport personnel.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of 120 aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet stands at 84 aircraft, flying to 92 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and North & South America.