Saudi Arabian Private Airlines (SPA, booth 1125), the VIP charter business of Saudia, has ordered an Embraer Praetor 500, with delivery scheduled for Q3 2023.It also has the option to buy a second mid-sized corporate jet, SPA CEO Fahad Al Jarboa told ain.
“We will take delivery of a new aircraft in the third quarter of next year and slowly rebuild our fleet,” he said. “We have delayed some decisions due to Covid, but we will finally have a new aircraft next year. The Praetor 500 is more for regional use. We have the option to take a second aircraft; we will probably have another order in the first quarter of next year , pending approval from our supporting directors.”
According to Al Jarboa, in recent years, SPA has disposed of its legacy fleet of 10 business jets, including four Dassault Falcons (three 7Xs and a 900) and six Hawker 400XPs, because these The plane is not well suited for its operation.
However, he was keen to highlight the company’s progress, despite anecdotal evidence of a stagnation in private and business aviation in Saudi Arabia following a 2017 government move to crack down on high-level corruption. He believes SPAs have weathered the storm and come out of Covid and are well positioned to capitalize on business activity that has hitherto been dormant.
“We want to prove that our company is still as strong, if not stronger, as it was pre-Covid,” Al Jarboa said. “At least in Saudi Arabia, we filled the void for evacuations and last-minute flights because during Covid everything is Urgent, trying to evacuate Saudi nationals, or even expatriates wanting to return to their country. We are well-filled with the demand for charter flights. We have also been expanding our FBO services in global flight support.”
The SPA also has numerous FBOs. “Jeddah and Riyadh are our main focus, with operations in Dammam, Medina, Jizan, Yanbu and Nyon,” he said.
The company continues to take advantage of temporary access to the flagship carrier’s entire fleet, which Al Jarboa explained to reporters as a “sublease” strategy ain 2019. “We will continue to do this. We are Saudia’s private charter company; for anyone who wants to charter a narrowbody or widebody, we have access to the Saudia fleet on call. team.”
In terms of narrow bodies, SPA can use Saudia’s Airbus A320 and A321. “On wide-body aircraft, we can use the Airbus A330 as well as the Boeing 777 and 787,” he said.
In fact, SPA was able to charter wide-body jets for the Saudi national football team to compete in Australia and Japan last year and train in various countries earlier this year in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. “Similarly, for some of the big government customers, we are the official national airline for the 777 in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
As the representative of the flag carrier, the SPA is best placed to take on any new business entering the market. “We benefit from Saudia’s economies of scale and because of this, we are able to offer our customers competitive packages,” he said. “Nobody can compete with us. On the narrowbody, only NasJet can compete with us, but on the widebody, they can’t.”
Al Jarboa said the SPA’s management responsibilities extended to the Royal Saudi Air Force’s civilian aircraft. “We provide full global flight support. These aircraft belong to the military, from the Airbus A330 utility tanker transport aircraft to the C-130, Beechcraft King Air, Hawker, Saab, Gulfstream and Boeing BBJ.”
The SPA also provides ground handling for the Saudi Aramco fleet located in Jeddah, Riyadh, Yanbu and several other sites in Saudi Arabia.
According to Al Jarboa, the SPA’s main customer base is local Saudi companies, but government agencies and individuals can also choose to fly with Saudi rival Alpha Star. The latter has a fleet of nine aircraft: three Airbus ACJ320 family jets, two Gulfstream G450s, two Hawker 900XPs and an ATR 42-500 and 72-600.
A major focus of Saudi development is the three large-scale projects – Neom, Amaala and Red Sea Development – that are underway along the northwestern Red Sea coast.
“The projects are going well,” he said. “A lot of progress has been made. We are in discussions with management to be part of their FBO service. We are confident of participating in the future.”
He added that high oil prices underscored the country’s status as a “sleeping giant” as its coffers were swelled by an extra $500 million a day when oil prices peaked due to the Ukraine war. “Now that our crown prince has opened up the country to tourism and business, it’s much easier,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is more accessible. We are reaping the benefits.”