The ninth edition of the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) Show 2022 will take place from December 6-8 at DWC, Dubai Airshow Site. The business aviation sector will showcase its global and regional might, with the event expected to attract more than 8,000 attendees from over 95 countries. Timothy Hawes, managing director at Tarsus Group which is the organiser of the MEBAA Show 2022, shares his insights on what to look forward to at this year’s mega event.

Give us a sense of the scale of this year’s MEBAA show.

The MEBAA Show 2022 is spread out over more than 4,700 sqm and features diverse local, regional and international exhibitors. It will see the return of major players such as Airbus, Boeing, Comlux, Dassault, Gulfstream and several others, along with over 40 new exhibitors from 20 countries. This year, we have focused on in-person networking opportunities, with a series of new features such as Connect to generate a return on investment for exhibitors. We have also introduced new lounges and hospitality throughout the static display.

The MEBAA Show 2022 will offer a platform to discuss the latest trends and showcase new aircraft and technologies, including eVTOLs, digitalisation, tokenisation and crypto-based payments.

How does the Middle East’s business aviation market compare to the likes of North America?

The global private jet market is projected to reach US$39.84 billion in 2025, up 54 per cent from US$25.87 billion in 2021. While the Middle East is at the forefront of this rapid increase, the growth is also being witnessed across other regions. Europe, for example, saw nearly 300,000 business jet flights in the first half of the year, a 38 per cent increase over the same period last year, and a 17 per cent rise over 2019. This rise was a result of pent-up demand for travel since the pandemic began, with high net worth individuals opting to fly on private jets rather than first class on commercial airlines.

Meanwhile, the US, which is the world’s biggest business aviation market, saw increases of 11.7 per cent and 14.4 per cent in departures in May and June this year, when compared to the corresponding months in 2019, according to data from Airbus Corporate Jets. Despite the US being recognised as the world’s biggest market, the Middle East – specifically the GCC region – is showing some of the strongest growth in business jet demand, notably from the UAE, where flights were up by 73 per cent compared to 2019. The growth momentum across the Middle East continued into 2022, with flights up by 47 per cent in May, in comparison with the same period in 2019 – compared to 11.7 per cent in the US.

Are there any firsts for MEBAA at this year’s show?

One of the biggest highlights this year will be the launch of the BizAv Talks conference, featuring a line-up of over 20 sessions delivered by 45 global industry leaders and specialists.

There will be a dedicated Operators Programme, created specifically to facilitate business matchmaking and to meet with regional and international operators. We also have our newly launched AI-powered MEBAA Connect app which will facilitate business connections between exhibitors and visitors, and help to pre-schedule meetings.

What are the expected highlights of the BizAv Talks?

During BizAv Talks, over 45 industry leaders will join us to share their insights on key themes, with each day focusing on a different theme such as ‘Future private jet business models’, ‘Tomorrow’s customer – Next-generation’, and ‘Accelerating business and private aviation with collaboration’. Some of the key sessions include a presentation on ‘Business aviation industry outlook – new business models and financial planning’ by Holger Ostheimer, managing director at DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, as well as panel debates on ‘Alternative business models for business aviation; financing, leasing, and fractional ownership’ and ‘Creating the ultimate flying experience for the elite’, with a focus on how travel expectations are changing and what business aviation will look like over the next two decades.

Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founder and executive chairman of MEBAA, will present ‘Emerging markets forecast – Accessing the top countries who are contributing to business aviation growth’, while Eymeric Segard, CEO of Luna Aviation Group, will deliver a session that showcases a market analysis on ‘Critical observation of global business aviation trends’.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group, cuts the ribbon to inaugurate a previous edition of the MEBAA Show
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group, cuts the ribbon to inaugurate a previous edition of the MEBAA Show

Will sustainability in business aviation be an issue addressed at MEBAA?

Sustainability will be at the forefront of the MEBAA Show with a number of new aircraft on display. These include the Boeing 737, Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X, Bombardier Aerospace Global 7500, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G700, Embraer Praetor 600 and Phenom 300E, among others. The MEBAA Show will also feature sustainability as a key topic in some of its conference sessions. For example, Kyle Martin, vice president of European Affairs at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Douglas Carr, senior vice president for safety, sustainability and international affairs at the National Business Aviation Association, and Rolland Vincent, director at Jet Net, will convene for a panel discussion on ‘Strategies for business aviation sustainability’. They’ll discuss the best practices to meet green goals while protecting return on investments, and looking at the short- and long-term perspective of original equipment manufacturers, fuel suppliers and operators.

What are the prospects for business aviation within the region?

Within the Middle East, the UAE has witnessed the highest demand for private jet charter services by revenue in 2021, followed by Saudi Arabia. Qatar, Oman and Bahrain are all seeing increasing growth in this sector too.

The private jet market in the UAE is predicted to see the number of aircraft increasing to reach 250 by 2025 from about 150 private aircraft currently. The UAE is strongly positioned to capitalise from increased foreign investments and high net worth individuals, driven by a strong influx of international wealth and support from the Dubai government to make the emirate the private jet capital of the region.

Royal Jet Abu Dhabi has added another Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) to its fleet taking the total number of BBJs to 12. A key part of the GCC’s success in driving rapid growth in private aviation is a result of its advanced regulatory environment and leading infrastructure. Skilled talent, a sufficient workforce, high levels of professional services and technical support have all enabled the region to continue advancing the business aviation sector over the past year.

Companies like DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, a joint venture between Dubai-based Al-Futtaim and Germany’s DC Aviation, have experienced a major increase in demand for private jets. Dubai-based private jet operator, Jetex, meanwhile expects to fly an additional 2,500 flights to and from Doha over the course of the World Cup. Mega events like Expo 2020 Dubai and the World Cup in Qatar have led to increased demand for business aviation, a trend which is expected to continue in the months to come.