Royal Jet flying high


The Middle East’s leading private jet operator gets ready for the recovery with new aircraft and business partnerships

WITH a current fleet which includes six Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), making it the world’s largest BBJ operator, as well as two mid-range Gulfstream 300s, a long-range Gulfstream IVSP, a Lear Jet 60 and an Embraer Lineage 1000, Abu Dhabi-based Royal Jet seems well on its way to realising its aim of becoming the world’s number one private aviation brand.

The company’s commitment to delivering absolute service excellence is supported by its diverse product offering and team of highly-qualified professionals and in the last year it has fully refurbished one BBJ to offer the best in cutting-edge technology coupled with luxury refinement.

O’Hare took advantage of market conditions

It also recently took delivery of two new additions to its fast-growing fleet – a sixth BBJ, which is uniquely styled to give the ‘home away from home’ feeling of a boutique hotel, and the brand new Embraer Lineage 1000, one of the world’s most technologically advanced business jets.

'We took advantage of the market conditions of the recession to increase the fleet and also refurbished a number of our aircraft to bring them up to date,' says President and CEO Shane O’Hare.

He continues: 'Back in December we reported the green shoots of recovery and that’s solidified in the first quarter of 2011, the market has definitely improved for the private jet sector. We have been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure we’re ready for the recovery. Two new aircraft were brought into the fleet last year and we have introduced the 100 Club which has grown beyond our expectations.'

The loyalty club scheme allows customers, from individuals to corporates, to profit from an attractive range of benefits and increased discounts depending on the number of hours flown. Members only have to commit to 20 hours of flight and O’Hare is quick to point out that, unlike other private jet cards, which may require a full year’s payment for usage in advance, invoices are only sent out on completion of each booking made.

As well as private jet charters, Royal Jet, which is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi Aviation and the Presidential Flight Authority, provides a number of other services including medical evacuation, with 1,000 successful missions to date, aircraft management, charter brokerage and ground services. The company also has a VIP terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport and has commenced operations at the emirate’s Al Bateen Executive Airport, the only facility of its kind in the Middle East.

O’Hare says he is happy with the size of the fleet for now but expects to see further expansion in 2012 and business-wise, Royal Jet is still growing.

A Gulfstream interior

'There’s been a 15 per cent growth in the Saudi market which we have solidified with our partnerships and we’ve now signed an MoU with Etihad airline, which is a sister Abu Dhabi company, to be the launch provider for the airline’s new Premium Connect product which extends the Etihad network by utilising Royal Jet connecting from Abu Dhabi to basically anywhere an Etihad premium passenger wants to go,' he says.

'This is a global trend in the airline business. It was pioneered by Delta and Lufthansa, Qatar has now introduced it too, and we see it as a trend. It’s the old ‘time is money’ adage – if I fly in and have to wait five hours or stay overnight or have to change all over the place, that’s not an efficient use of time.

'The private jet solution is the quickest elapsed time between two points and we fly the whole range - from six seats to 50 seats. When you look at the charter price for the number of seats, it can actually be more cost-effective than flying first class and you have the ease of dealing with private security which can also save significant time.'

Royal Jet’s stated vision is ‘to be the most admired private aviation brand in the world – to be asked for by name by discerning travellers across the globe’.

One of the world’s most technologically advanced jets, the Lineage 1000 can carry up to 19 passengers

And showing that it is on the way to achieving this, Royal Jet was recently awarded the title of the Middle East’s Leading Private Jet Charter at the Middle East edition of the World Travel Awards (WTA) held in Dubai, UAE. The company has also been recognised as the World’s Leading Private Jet Service for four consecutive years at the WTA grand final at which it was up against the best of the best from around the globe.

'We were recognised at the World Travel Awards for the fourth time and are absolutely delighted since they are increasingly seen as a benchmark for the industry and we are proud to be recognised,' says O’Hare.

'The vision of Royal Jet is through our chairman Sheikh Hamdam bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. He has a great understanding of quality service to VIPs and building a very solid platform to be recognised as the best. We are eight years old on May 11 and by any measure we are in the top five globally and we are striving to raise that benchmark – it’s a nice position to be in.'