Elite Jet launches itself in the region

Not just used for business trips, private jets are now being chartered for shopping weekends

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By  Laura Barnes Published  January 3, 2005

Elite Jets has become the latest private jet operator to be set up in the region. The Dubai based company will operate a charter fleet of three aircraft initially, as well as offering sales and aircraft management services. Based in Dubai Airport Freezone, Elite Jets is launching its services with a Beechjet 400A and a Hawker 1000, with a Falcon 900B due to arrive by the end of the month. The company is confident of finding enough customers because of the region’s booming demand for business jets, but relatively limited supply. “There is a good client base in this region. The Middle East and specifically Dubai, are starting to become part of the worldwide business place, thanks to the growth of the infrastructure, business and economy here so it brings space for services such as ours,” said Paras Dhamecha, CEO, Elite Jets. “There is therefore enough business to go around, and, in my opinion, there are simply not enough aircraft for the demand in this industry at present,” added Dhamecha. Elite’s first aircraft, a seven seater Beechjet 400A, was brought in from South Africa’s National Airways Corporation (NAC), one of its founding partners. The company’s other backers are JML Investment Group, a French team that recently relocated to the Middle East, and Reef Aviation Group, which has serviced royal flights within the GCC since 2002. “Elite Jets is backed by a lot of experienced companies worldwide, so there is a lot of experience already in place thanks to these companies,” said Dhamecha. The company is also able to leverage on its partners to access larger aircraft, but it believes there is a bigger need for a smaller jet at present, with the possibility of operating a Boeing business jet if the market demands it. “We purchased the Beechjet 400A initially, as it was ready to fill the gap in the region. It is a seven seater and gets you from A to B quickly. A round trip to Bahrain with six out of seven seats being filled will cost US$ 1200 a seat, that is 10-15% higher than first class but you get a plane to yourself. That really is appealing to a lot of companies,” said Dhamecha. Elite is targeting both the business and leisure markets, as there is a growing demand for charter jets in both sectors locally. “A lot of people who travel in private jets on business, travel on a very secret level and our mission statement is privacy and care. There is an underworld of people who travel and want to keep it hush-hush. They want to get from A to B as quickly as possible when they want, with their food, with whatever they want, and this is why they use private jets,” said Caron Gledhill, director of sales & marketing, Elite Jets. “However, there is also a growing market for leisure travel, with women from the Gulf area chartering jets to go on shopping trips to places like Beirut, or for people to go on weekend retreats. It is a very busy market.” The company markets main focus will be on the GCC, CIS and the India Subcontinent, although the Falcon 900B will also enable direct flights to London, and flights to the USA with one fuel stop. However, despite its regional focus Elite Jets do not plan to fly to Iraq just yet. “We are not initially flying to Iraq, but we are observing the situation, as are all operators. We will continue to monitor it, and when the situation is safe to take our planes there then we will. In the meantime though, there is a lot of business in this region to focus on,” added Gledhill.

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