While the Middle East accounts for only around 5% of global general aviation, given its size, the different businesses that exist, and the fact that companies often operate in multiple countries in the region and increasingly need to connect to Europe, the US and Asia. That’s according to Renaud Cloâtre, International Sales Director at Dassault Aviation in Dubai.
“The potential for growth is huge because there is not enough equipment in the area,” Cloâtre said. “If you look at the structure of general aviation in Europe or the U.S., there’s a clear potential for growth in the Middle East. We’re in an economy where the energy market is actually changing the relationship between Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. Oil’s The value is more and more recognized. Oil prices are becoming more and more important, highlighting the true value of oil. This is necessary. Another requirement is to use it wisely and not burn too much.
“As you’ve seen in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and other countries, regional transformation is happening. The UAE has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The whole region has changed. When you move towards change, you need a corresponding tools, and business jets are one of them.”
He said the Falcon 7X has been a huge success, with Dassault selling six to Saudi Arabia’s private airline. “The 7X and 8X are fantastic aircraft that can fly from here to all continents. The Saudis love tri-engine aircraft. They love the stability of fly-by-wire. The Saudi market is very complex in terms of players and operators. , the domestic market is large; this is the distance they need.
“Similarly, if you look at all the missions that general aviation can perform—moving people, cargo, and materials, or medical evacuation—Saudi Arabia needs to do a lot of things. Given the changes to the Saudi Vision 2030 program and infrastructure, the next few years will 2020 will be a completely different proposition. This will bring us huge development opportunities.”
Besides the UAE and Saudi Arabia, he sees opportunities elsewhere in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). “It’s growing and changing, not just because oil provides the backbone,” Cloâtre said. “These countries are growing. Regional transformation programs offer opportunities everywhere. I also worked in Egypt, where there are a lot of wealthy companies. Have you been to Cairo lately? New Cairo and the administrative capital are great.”
He said his work in the Middle East was communication. “Let’s say we have activities in all these countries because we can actually respond to different missions in different countries – government flights, private flights or special missions. It’s a whole portfolio. You have the GCC and Pakistan. Then From Turkey to Egypt. Israel is not my territory. There is always a need, somewhere,” he said.
Turkey also proved to be an excellent market for Dassault. “Istanbul is a very good market,” he said. “We have a strong presence in Turkey. The Falcon 6X has been well-received. The 6X has extensive long-term owner experience in Turkey, and they also leverage the broader Falcon portfolio.”
face to face
Cloâtre said the pandemic has been a time of ups and downs as regional economies fluctuate.
“Covid has shown that you can’t just rely on your computer and say: ‘OK, I have Zoom, I have Skype, I have anything, I can do my business from home,'” he said. “It’s not. You have to be on the ground to talk about business. You have to be able to check what’s going on in a facility on the other side of the world; you have to deal with your customers, you have to interact. Covid has shown that private aviation is a very powerful tool, Not just for business. We’ve seen the hygiene measures that Dassault has taken in France and in Europe. Although invisible, they are an important part of the aviation industry.”
He highlighted the ability of the Falcon 8X, on static display this week at MEBAA 2022 (static display A21), to fly directly to Abu Dhabi from New York or Washington. The 10X, officially due for delivery in late 2025, would be a better bet. “On the way back, when the head wind gets stronger, if you want to do it non-stop, you need 7,500 nautical miles on the 10X,” he said. “Otherwise, you do a 30-minute fuel and customs stop in Shannon and you can fly quickly between the two stops.”
Dassault notes that its large-cabin models, such as the 6,450-nautical-mile Falcon 8X, account for a third of the 75 Falcons in the region. The fleet is expected to increase once the Falcon 6X and 10X hit the market in the coming years.
The Falcon 6X will enter service in mid-2023. “You have multiple needs, and the 6X is ideal,” he said. “It can do everything from long-range to short-range, but the point is that it gets you where you want to go. Considering our generations-old customers, the door-to-door journey is more important today than avoiding pain. For example, You can have meetings in three cities in one day. Best of all, Falcon provides valuable flexibility.”
Dassault has received strong interest, including a “substantial order” for the 6X from the Middle East. The French planemaker said there were several deliveries to the region shortly after the wide-cabin model entered service, adding that the 6X was in the final stages of flight testing.
As its fleet continues to grow, Dassault Aviation is expanding its service capabilities in the region. In 2019, Dassault acquired the global maintenance business of Luxaviation subsidiary ExecuJet, which plans to open a 15,000-square-meter (163,000-square-foot) FBO-MRO at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport (OMDW) early next year.
Serving operators in the Gulf region, OMDW’s facility will be able to accommodate 18 to 24 aircraft simultaneously and will be qualified to handle the full range of MRO activities from line maintenance to overhaul.
ExecuJet will service other OEM aircraft besides the Falcon, including regional and in-transit aircraft. Serving as ExecuJet’s regional headquarters, the complex is replacing ExecuJet’s base maintenance at Dubai International Airport (OMDB). However, the OMDB location will continue to provide AOG services.
“We’ve invested heavily in OMDW through our three hangars,” he said. “This investment is aimed at bringing us closer to our customers in terms of maintenance; customers can travel to Dassault Dubai as easily as they can to Dassault Falcon Service in Paris. The development of OMDW – the original OMDW master plan – is slowly coming to fruition. The transition to OMDW. I think the government has done a good job of phasing it out. It’s a shift I welcome.”
Dassault also operates a spare parts distribution center in Dubai and has added an engineering office in Cairo.