Business travel is a lucrative business in the Middle East and in particular, the GCC. Royal Jet managed to achieve record profits in 2008 during the height of the global downturn and its financial success is set to continue.

Royal Jet in numbers

2003: Year that Royal Jet began operations

350: Number of employees

50: Size of fleet by 2021

Source: Royal Jet

Royal Jet fleet expansion
Year Fleet size
2005 4
2010 11
2013f 20
2020f 50
f=Forecast. Source: Royal Jet
Royal Jet’s fleet
(Percentage of 11 aircraft)
Boeing Business Jets 55
Gulfstream 300 18
Gulfstream IVSP 9
Learjet 60 9
Embraer 9
Source: MEED

This is due, in part, to the lack of ground transport linking the six Gulf states.  Although the states are geographically close to each other, it is not easy to visit more than one of them in a day. Until each of the Gulf states develops its national rail networks, making up the GCC railway, companies wishing to do business in the region are limited to using private jets or commercial flights.

The aviation sector will continue to grow over the next decade as each of the Gulf states develop their own international airports. Saudi Arabia is upgrading its two biggest airports at Medina and Jeddah. The UAE will open its Al-Maktoum International airport at Jebel Ali to passengers in March 2011 and expansion plans are well under way for Dubai International. In the rest of the GCC, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are all planning or upgrading their aviation infrastructure.

Airport developments and expansions are also under way across the Middle East and North Africa region, including Egypt, Libya, Iran and Iraq.

For a company such as Royal Jet, the opportunities going forward are vast.

The firm’s success lies beyond providing luxury jets. The company has been quick to respond to the change in the market, turning its attentions to maintenance, repair and overhaul services and entering in to partnerships with package holiday providers.

The firm’s biggest challenge in the short term will be trying to compete on cost as the economic downturn continues to impact the region’s aviation market.