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The Past, Present and Future of General Aviation in the Middle East

02 May 2017

The Past, Present and Future of General Aviation in the Middle East


The Middle East is not only a melting pot of cultures, but is also a leading destination for business travel and leisure trips with Dubai International Airport as one of the world’s busiest in terms of the number of flights and passengers. The Middle East is the world’s leader in passenger growth in 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association. It has a sizeable international market share. Profits from oil production fuelled economic growth in the region. The general aviation sector has also experienced growth.

Two decades ago, the general aviation industry catered solely to members of the royal families. Now it has a more diverse clientele, which includes wealthy entrepreneurs, business executives, and government officials. It has emerged a tool for increasing business efficiency and has become a global industry in its own rank.

The general aviation industry in the Middle East has started from humble beginnings in the 1980s and In 1995, the number of business airline fleet operating in the region was only 195. This number increased to 235 by 2005. Presently, there are more than a thousand aircraft in the Middle East & North Africa general aviation industry. Air traffic has also increased significantly over the past two decades.

The growth of general aviation and air traffic in the Middle East & North Africa accelerated at the turn of the century. At present, the business aviation sector provides an estimated 430,000 jobs. It contributes $97.5 billion annually to the economy of the Middle East.

The Middle East & North Africa remains to be a very promising market for the general aviation sector over the next 10 years. Bombardier Business Aircraft, one of the industry leaders in the region, has around 350 aircrafts scheduled for delivery all through 2025 with an estimated cost of around $12 billion USD. During the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association Show in Dubai, the organization has showcased its advanced and state-of-the-art private jets. It included the Learjet 75, Challenger 650, Global 5000 and Global 6000. It is expected that business aviation companies will expand to other Middle East cities, aside from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, and Riyadh. While these four remain the top general aviation hubs in the region, Turkey, Oman, and Qatar have fast-grown aviation traffic in recent years. In Turkey alone, there were 25 new aviation aircraft added to its registry in a span of 6 months.


There also other avenues for expansion for business aviation companies aside from servicing chartered business flights. These include air ambulance, government, military, and humanitarian flights. Business forecasts show huge growth potentials over the next few years.