Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wallan Aviation expects CJ4 in Bahrain to seal the deal

Manama: Jan. 18 -- (BNA): Wallan Aviation are participating in the 2012 Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS2102) with its Citation CJ1, Citation CJ4, Cessna 172 and Caravan 208 airplanes, said its Chairman Saad Wallan.

In an exclusive interview with Bahrain News Agency, Mr. Wallan said he expected some contracts to be signed because there were enquiries for Citation CJ4. “We have one customer the State of Qatar, some other customers from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They were asking for the CJ4s and we could not show it to them. We have these aircrafts here and they can see them all. So we expect to sign some contracts here,” said the chairman.

Talking about the points of strength of Wallan Aviation, its chairman added, “We are now the only private aviation company in Saudi Arabia. Our products range includes sales of Cessna aircraft and Bell Helicopters. In addition to these, we also charter planes, carry out aircraft maintenance services and also have aviation training schools. Now, we also have a dedicated service center for Cessna.”

The Wallan products are just suitable for the region here, said Saad Wallan, “because it doesn’t cost much to operate our airplanes and it also doesn’t cost too much to maintain. So, it’s the right product for this market. Wallan covers the whole Middle East region at the most minimum cost.”

Some of our aircraft cost only $500 to $600 an hour to fly, in comparison with competitors whose aircrafts cost 10 times – over $5000, he said. Owning them is not a burden either, because the price range begins as low as $3.5 million and moves up to $20 million, he added. In comparison some other private jets cost up-to $45 million.

“We have the right product for Saudi businesses. The Citation X, built by Cessna, is the fastest jet in the world after the Concorde. It is capable of Mach 92 -- which is about a 1000 km an hour. We own one of these aircrafts,” said Wallan chairman. He said it costs only about $20 million.

Asked about the fluctuating fortunes in a global downturn, the Saudi-based businessman was very clear, “Fortunately, our market -- the Middle East -- has not much been hit hardest by the downturn in the economy like other parts of the world and hopefully it will not.”

Turning to the company’s growth chart, Wallan said, “The best performance we had in our 12 years is 18 airplanes in a year. It is not the same as it was then, but then we do see some demand coming for the single-engine aircraft with a lot of schools opening. Jets are a must to build on the pilot hours and that will result in more purchase orders for us.”

In addition to actual sale of jets, there is also the aircraft maintenance section , he said. The group’s flying schools evidence much interest and there is also interest in schools for aviation engineers – mechanics, he said. “It is getting better with the diversification. We never had to advertise, but then it is better and we are advertising more and more.”

The way forward for Wallan, he said, is better with Cessna and Bell helicopters. “Clients are also looking for bigger aircraft. Some of our customers would like to upgrade to bigger airplanes than what they brought from us some time ago. We will only be too glad to meet their demands. We are looking at flying Bahrain-London or even Dubai-London direct routes,” added the chairman.

Some of Wallan’s clients who earlier bought the Citation CJ4 to fly around the region are now looking to fly far longer distances and hence there is business for bigger jets, he added.

Going down memory lane to the inauguration of Bahrain International Airshow, he said, that show was very, very successful.” We were amazed and surprised how Bahrain had organized an airshow and gathered a hundred percent participation from the first time.

The success of the inaugural show came as a surprise not just to us, but to all who participated. The way the show was organized surprised us and all of them have promised to return.”

As an avid flyer who turned his passion for flying into a business, he said, “flying is a passion to me like no other. When we fly and reach up there it gives a freedom unimagined.”

He said that he had worked for Saudi Airlines about 40 years ago. In addition to flying as a pilot he also did a lot of marketing and sales for the sales department said Wallan.

“In the aviation business I have much a rich experience. Thereafter in 1999 I took the franchise for Cessna and in 2008 I also became a franchisee for Bell Helicopters. We are doing well and I am a pilot as well as businessman and I used to fly 20 years ago and I can fly all these as well. It's not only a hobby but good business, too."


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