Gama Aviation's Middle East managing director Martin Ringros and Commercial Manager Oliver Hewson Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf news

Sharjah: Gama Aviation Middle East, a business jet charter and manager, is moving forward with its $15 million (Dh55.1 million) investment plans at Sharjah International Airport despite its belief that regional appetite for business jets remains flat.

The company opened a private terminal at Sharjah International a year ago as Phase One of its investment plans for the airport and after leasing additional aircraft parking space earlier this month it will soon commit on a new maintenance hangar.

Gama Aviation is looking at a number of options on where exactly at the airport the new hangar will be located, Middle East managing director Martin Ringrose told Gulf News in an interview on Monday at the private terminal.

One consideration is an $8 million maintenance hangar, which will be located next to its current hangars. It is also in talks with the airport authority about moving all of its hangars to another site at the airport. A decision on the new hangar will be made this year, Ringrose said.

The $15 million investment at Sharjah International Airport is part of Gama Aviation’s bid to edge out competitors and convince business jet owners to let them manage their aircraft in a highly competitive, slow-growing market.

Seven years since the financial crisis hit global markets, there has been little bounce back in the regional business jet market, Ringrose said, despite flyers known for their high net worth.

“The market size is reasonably static,” Ringrose said.

This year, the company, whose local shareholders include Sharjah conglomerate Crescent Enterprises and Dubai buyout firm Growthgate Capital, has added one aircraft to its fleet of eight chartered and managed aircraft.

Increasing take-off, landing and parking constraints at Dubai International, the world’s busiest airport for international passengers, are also making Gama Aviation and Sharjah International more attractive to business jet flyers.

This year, Gama Aviation is targeting to increase business by one and half times, Ringrose said, but declined to state current take-off and landing figures or future targets.

“[There will be] quite a steep growth in terms of volume changes by the end of the year,” he said.