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Sun, Feb 04, 2007

Boom Times Coming To Middle East Business Aviation

UAE Official To MEBA Conference

Cooperation is the word for Middle East civil aviation authorities in adapting to the booming Middle East business aviation, according to a senior United Arab Emirate government official, local media reported Friday.

Business aviation is coming into its own as a regional industry, said Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy of UAE, in a keynote address to the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) conference at Airport Expo Dubai on Thursday.

However, "the regulation around business aviation is still very much a grey area in the Middle East," Sheikha Lubna said. Therefore countries in the region should work together to "ensure that business aviation traffic is not just tolerated, but welcomed and catered for."

"Just as there is an economic impact in the traffic increases boosted by new aviation services in a liberalized market, there are jobs that must be developed to meet that demand," Sheikha Lubna said, "if civil aviation authorities around the region can collaborate to foster a more efficient and streamlined, unified approach to manage business aviation regulations, we all stand to benefit."

It's been estimated that a $30 million jet would result in $2.7 million of annual expenses, including salaries, airport parking, insurance, maintenance and permits, and clearly there are a number of job creation opportunities associated with that upkeep. "So, if civil aviation authorities around the region can collaborate to foster a more efficient and streamlined, unified approach to managing business aviation regulations, we all stand to benefit," said Sheikha Lubna.

The MEBA conference was a two-day event with an associated exhibition featuring 90 companies from 20 countries and 31 business jets on display.

The on-site declared order book for the show reached some $832 million on the second day, with Airbus saying it had won orders worth $580 million for two VIP A340 wide-bodied and two A318 corporate aircraft from undisclosed clients and two A320s ordered by the Royal Air Force of Oman.

"The Middle East is an important market for Airbus on the corporate jet level," said Airbus spokesman David Velupillai. "We have had interest from a number of dignitaries that include heads of Middle East and Indian carriers, senior officials of Gulf states, the heads of European corporations and others."

FMI: www.government.ae/gov/en/index.jsp, www.airbus.com

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