Dubai: Even private jet trips are getting the ‘all-inclusive’ touch this Eid break, with UAE holidaymakers being offered luxury hotel stays and other on-the-ground experiences in the Maldives or Seychelles if they book a jet. This way, jet operators hope to convince more wealthy fliers to consider going 'private' rather than pay to fly First Class on an airline.
The operator Jetex is offering such a package for Dh49,000 per person, and there are competing offers aimed at travelers who have made last-minute decisions about where they should spend their Eid. The price of the package shouldn’t be seen as excessive, according to a top official at Jetex.
“For the first time, we are offering concierge packages for Eid that are almost the same cost as flying First Class,” said Adel Mardini, founder and CEO of Jetex.
“We have had several enquiries - and bookings - for the service.”
The package includes stays at five-star partner hotels, resorts and villas such as the Muraka and One and Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives and a selection of hotels in the Seychelles. There are the yacht charters and many other benefits.
Other private jet charter companies are also reporting a surge in demand during Eid and even beyond that. Rajgopal Nair, Director of Bluedot Charters, said, “Many are also flying into the UAE on their private jets to celebrate the holidays in Dubai.”
The Dubai-based private charter firm JetzCorp said the company received at least 100 enquiries this Eid, and 20 confirmed bookings made to various holiday destinations.
Typically, flying a family of four to Singapore costs up to Dh367,210. A Dubai-to-Sharm El Sheikh trip comes to about Dh125,000, while leasing a Hawker 900XP jet to Jeddah starts at Dh123,000.
A Dubai-to-Riyadh journey would range from Dh89,000 to Dh116,000. Medium-sized jets like the Citation XLS+ and Dassault Falcon 50 can seat up to nine passengers, with a Learjet 60XR to Istanbul costing Dh143,000 and a Legacy 650 at Dh182,000.
Any tip that requires six hours or more of flying costs a minimum Dh275,422 to Dh330,507. These are prices for a one-way trip, say operators. However, if the passenger needs to make an intra-city trip or keep the aircraft with them for the entire duration of their holiday (two-three days), it would come to more than Dh600,000.
For concierge services where travellers would like to charter an 80 feet yacht or catamaran, it would be an additional $40,000 (Dh146,892).
Top Eid destinations
While sought-after European destinations such as London, Spain, Athens, Zurich, Naples, Paris and Geneva are popular for Eid travel, those flying private are also looking to travel to Maldives and Istanbul for the holidays.
“African destinations like Kenya, Zanzibar and Tanzania are gaining popularity,” said Ahmed Shajeer, founder of JetzCorp. “Sharm El-Sheikh is another."
There is also demand for Umrah travel to Saudi Arabia. “This Ramadan, we have completed nearly 30 Umrah trips from Dubai to Saudi Arabia and have a few more left in the next day or two,” said Shajeer.
Jeddah–Dubai flights for Umrah were between Dh146,892 to Dh165,253 and made on a mid-size Citation Sovereign carrying nine passengers.
Travel demand trends
Unlike commercial flights, more than 70 per cent of private jet charter bookings are made on short notice, said Shajeer.
Executive aviation service providers remain optimistic about the growth of private jet charter demand in the region despite global economic challenges, extending beyond major events like last year’s Qatar World Cup and Expo 2020.
Despite recession fears, the Middle East’s private aviation sector grew by 20-25 per cent year-on-year in 2022 based on aircraft movements. As many as 15,444 private jet movements were recorded in 2022, a 3 per cent increase compared to the year-ago period, according to the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub in Dubai South. In December last, 2,319 movements were recorded, the highest in a single month.
“We have had a 15 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2023 - on average, we are operating 1,250 flights per month,” said Mardani. “There is massive growth, especially in Dubai, as 80 per cent of our market share is from the Al Maktoum International Airport.”
Jetex won the concession to manage and operate the VIP terminals at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport earlier this month. (Al Bateen is the only business aviation airport in the region.)