Tuesday, February 14, 2017

GI Aviation going after private jet customers: Abu Dhabi-based company looks to tap into the regional commuter market

UAE’s latest private aviation charter operator to enter the market aims to tap into the GCC commuter market.

GI Aviation has a definite target market, pricing itself somewhere between business class on a commercial carrier and the cost of chartering a mid-size jet aircraft.

Based in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Airport, the charter firm has launched with two Pilatus PC-12NG.

The distinctive Swiss-made aircraft, with a single-engine turboprop engine, has a flying range of four and a half hours that is capable of serving the regional market, according to GI Aviation general manager, Marios Belidis.

“Each aircraft has a capacity of six to eight passengers. The ideal configuration is between four to six passengers,” Belidis told Arabian Business.

“The maximum range of these is up to four and a half hours of flying and we're looking into operating in the GCC and surrounding region.”

He said the PC12, with its low maintenance cost, enables GI Aviation to competitively price a charter flight 30 percent lower than a mid-sized private jet, but with the same luxury.

“We're placing ourselves price wise between a business class seat and a [private] jet,” said Belidis, “so people who wouldn't be able to afford to get a jet will be more able to afford the PC12.

“If you were to fly, let's say, six or eight executives tomorrow to Doha for an hour flight, you're probably looking at flying business or first class seats. You might not be able to pay a jet, but you will be able to pay a PC12.

“Why go on business when you can charter an aircraft, and save yourself time? If you travel business class you have to report to the airport two hours before and then you bear through the delays at your arrival point. We're offering privacy, affordable rates and luxury.”

In terms of exact costs, Belidis said it depends on routes, ground handling charges, additional airport charges, landing fees.

The target market will be in the GCC region, focusing on the shorter flights, as the slightly longer routes become less price competitive.

“We believe we'll see a lot of flights to Doha, Bahrain, Kuwait, up to Tehran, and go as far as Karachi,” Belidis said.

“We will fly to Saudi yes, to Riyadh and other places for sure, but what happens with the PC12 is that it's good for two hours flying, but beyond that you become less competitive because your speed is restricted and it becomes much slower than a jet. Up to two hours, you don't see much difference.”

Being the first PC12 to operate in the region, Belidis said the process in securing its Air Operator’s Certificate from the GCAA was a two-year process that was finally concluded last December.

"We're introducing a new type of aircraft to the region. PC12s haven't been operating here in the region commercially, and that was the challenge for GCAA and ourselves,” Belidis explained.

He said enquires for the service started from the moment they acquired the licence.

The PC12 cabin can also be converted for medical configuration within an hour, which has three seats and space for a medical stretcher.

Original article can be found here: http://www.arabianbusiness.com

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