Business Aviation Will Be First Market To Bounce Back, Says Dubai Private Jet Boss

Jetex boss says he expects pandemic to have ‘minimal impact’ on the business aviation market as passengers turn from commercial to private flying.

Growth in the business aviation market will return to pre-COVID levels well before the commercial airline industry, according to one of the Middle East’s leading figures in the private jet sector.

Commercial airlines in the Middle East are set to lose around $7.1 billion in 2021, according to the International Air Transport Association, as demand for air travel remains low amid border uncertainty and spikes in virus cases.

But Adel Mardini, CEO of Dubai-based private aviation operator and FBO, Jetex, said on the latest episode of #BAAtalks, the industry’s new talk show, that business aviation companies will continue to snap up commercial airline customers over the next few years.

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What is more, Mardini reckons that private jet companies will retain those customers.

Discussing the ‘death of First Class’ with aviation consultant, Linus Benjamin Bauer, on Episode 3 of #BAAtalks, Mardini said Jetex’s growth during the pandemic illustrates how former First Class passengers are increasingly choosing to fly privately because of several factors.

These include cheaper tickets and shared seat costs, quieter terminals, fewer physical touch points and convenience.

Adel Mardini, CEO of Dubai-based private aviation operator and FBO, Jetex,

“In the third quarter of 2020 we saw 100 percent growth compared to the third quarter of 2019 and this is a big indication that our industry bounces back very quickly,” Mardini said in conversation with Bauer.

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“I see very minimal impact from the COVID crisis on business aviation. I can assure you that business aviation will be the first industry to recovery from any pandemic.”

Mardini said that out of the 70 percent growth in people flying privately currently, a “minimum of 50 percent will continue flying privately” when commercial aviation returns in full.

“The commercial airlines will keep suffering for the next three years,” Mardini said.

While private jet travel is still well beyond most people, Jetex is aiming to capitalise on the increase in disposable income of rising middle classes in areas such as India, the Far East and some parts of Africa. A number of new start-ups have sprung up during the pandemic designed to make private charters much simpler and affordable to the masses.

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But there could also be an opportunity for business aviation companies to work with commercial airlines to the benefit of both market segments.

Increasingly, commercial airlines are dropping First Class altogether, finding that they can often produce more profits from full Economy Class configurations and high load factors. Mardini said that there is an opportunity for Jetex to work with Gulf airlines in the future who want to outsource First Class travel to private jet companies.

Wole Shadare