June 3, 2020
Though operators should be prepared to deal with potentially disruptive political issues, strong aviation infrastructure and dynamic business opportunities make the Middle East and India appealing destinations.
“Flying into Middle East and India can be rewarding, but it’s important to be aware of constantly changing complexities – ranging from political disputes to full-blown armed conflicts,” said NBAA GO Virtual IOC2020 presenter Gordon Macari, corporate account manager with JetEx.
In the latest Virtual IOC2020 session, “Regional Review – India/Middle East,” Macari shares insights from his more than 10 years of experience working on a Dubai-based international flight support team. The full session is available at 11 a.m. Thursday, /June 4, and is followed by an interactive Q&A session.
Emerging Markets Bring Opportunity
Home to the world’s second-largest population, India’s aviation sector is growing rapidly. It’s the third-largest civil aviation market in the world, with more than 103 airports, and is expected to overtake the U.K. to become the third-largest air passenger market by 2024.
This rapid development includes substantial activity in the general aviation sector, as booming numbers of businesspeople and high-net-worth individuals have been accompanied by “a distinctive growth” in the number of business aircraft owned by Indian citizens. Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream are set to deliver 630 aircraft to the country by 2025, according to the Middle East Business Aviation Association.
“With more wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to invest elsewhere, the demand for general aviation is increasing,” Macari said.
Macari noted that the Middle East has also witnessed substantial development in its aviation sector over the last decade. In 2018, the International Air Transport Association announced the Middle East had experienced the world’s strongest growth in air passenger traffic globally for 5th year in a row.
“Gulf Cooperation Council countries are experiencing a surge in the number of middle-class residents and a general rise in levels of prosperity,” he said.
Beyond the well-known conflicts in the regions – Syria’s civil war, campaigns against ISIL, unrest in Iraq and the Kashmir province, and the ongoing war in Yemen – several countries’ strained relationships directly impact flight planning. Macari’s examples include multi-country restrictions regarding Qatari-registered aircraft, or aircraft flying from or to Qatar, and severe sanctions on Iran that preclude the country’s airspace from being used.
“Operating via the Iranian flight information region (FIR), whilst incredibly convenient and cost-effective when flying to and to Europe, is prohibited by the FAA,” he said. “Avoiding the FIR costs an additional 60-90 minutes of flight time for routings such as London to Dubai.”
Macari recommended using Jordan as an entry and exit points for restricted countries. A GA-friendly country with no major political issues with neighbors, Jordan offers several airports to choose from and is the only country in the region that allows direct flights to and from Israel.
“Direct flights form Jordan to Israel happen on a daily basis,” he said. “They have gotten very good at quick turns, able to turn an aircraft in minutes.”