Dubai: The biggest UAE and Gulf airlines will be running special flights to Doha in November and December for the FIFA World Cup – but that’s not stopping private jet operators in the UAE to ramp up their own services by then.
Dubai-based private jet operator Jetex expects to fly an additional 2,500 flights to and from Doha during the World Cup. According to Adel Mardini, CEO, “We are receiving a lot of inquiries and many will make Dubai or Abu Dhabi their base during these two months.”
The sporting event is expected to attract more than 1.2 million fans and given the lack of hotel accommodation in Doha, many fans will be staying in the UAE and flying into Doha for the matches. Several regional airlines are rushing in to meet this demand.
Air Arabia will fly an additional 14 shuttle flights daily from Sharjah to Doha. Etihad Airways will operate 42 weekly flights during the event, compared to the 18 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Doha currently. Budget airline flydubai will be doing most of the heavy lifting with around 60 daily shuttle flights.
Jetex is not the only private jet firm gearing up for the event. DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF) is also boosting its capacity to meet the expected surge in demand. “We experience a continuous level of enquiries for travel from Dubai to Doha,” said Holger Ostheimer, Managing Director, DC Aviation Al-Futtaim. “DCAF will be making available capacities on different sizes of aircraft, from small business jets with 4-6 seats for more cost-conscious clientele, as well as in the large business jet category with 12-16 numbers of seats.”
Ostheimer said that charter demand has been strong, with a lot of the leisure traffic returning.
Typically, for a small group of four to six passengers travelling on a private jet for the World Cup period, the cost could be anywhere from $18,000 (about Dh66,000) upwards one-way depending on the type and size of the aircraft.
Normal commercial flights from Dubai to Doha will cost passengers between Dh1,000-Dh4,000 during that period. A Business Class seat can cost up to Dh12,000.
Travelling on a business jet will be both interesting from a price point as well as allowing passengers to travel when they need to
While fuel prices affect margins for commercial airlines, the impact on business aviation is minimal. Jetex’s Mardini pointed out that commercial airplanes require a lot more fuel than business jets. Bombardier’s Global 5000, one of the largest private jets, has an average hourly fuel burn of 450 gallons per hour. An Airbus A380 – the largest commercial jetliner – can burn up to 3,600 gallons in an hour.
“Commercial planes have to also fill in 60-70 per cent of the seats in order to just breakeven, while in private aviation everything is driven by demand” he added.
DC Aviation said that the fuel costs will be adjusted in the pricing of the flights and added that the increase will be ‘minimal’.
More delays to pre-pandemic times?
The Jetex CEO does not expect commercial aviation to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025 or 2026. This is mainly due to the staffing issues faced by airlines in UK and Europe.
“This is a big advantage for our industry because people would still have to fly in a private jet to avoid last-minute cancellations, delays and loss of luggage,” said Mardini. “Airlines also continue to be impacted by the pandemic and high fuel prices.”