Qatar Airways last week announced an order for 18 Gulfstream aircraft during a ceremony at the White House. The order worth over $1 billion is for 14 Gulfstream G650ER and four Gulfstream G500 and will add to Qatar Executive’s growing fleet that currently includes six G650ER and four G500 aircraft.
Gulfstream executives had previously reported the order, however, the customer had not been disclosed. Flexjet had been mentioned along with Qatar Executive as likely buyers.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker said, “Qatar Airways is very pleased to confirm this landmark deal with Gulfstream. Our corporate jet division, Qatar Executive, goes from strength to strength and this commitment to new orders will allow us to offer our bespoke luxury service to even more passengers.”
“Gulfstream has valued Qatar Airways business and the high level of precision and quality we have in common,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “We are proud to have the products that meet the needs of their demanding criteria and look forward to supporting the airline with deliveries and service for many years to come.”
Qatar Executive has been a Gulfstream customer since October 2014, when the charter service was announced as the international launch customer for the all-new G500 as part of a large fleet agreement that included the G650ER.
Since that time, Qatar Executive has progressively increased its Gulfstream orders. This latest one, for a mixed fleet of large-cabin aircraft valued at over $1 billion, further builds on the airline’s efforts to expand the Gulfstream cabin experience around the world.
To date, Gulfstream has delivered six G650ER and four G500 aircraft to Qatar Executive, including the first two international deliveries of the G500 in December 2018.
The move sets up speculation on whether or not Qatar Executive will launch cooperation with JetSuite, the Dallas based operator of Embraer’s Phenom 300 and 100 aircraft.
After being rebuffed by American Airlines (Qatar Airways holds minority ownership in IAG, the parent of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus), the Doha based airline announced an undisclosed investment in JetSuite last year. It was joined by JetBlue which made its second investment in the company.
Since that time, JetSuite has been expanding flying from its JetSuiteX brand of schedule executive jet flights from California and Las Vegas to add Seattle and Phoenix.
Using former regional jets reconfigured for 30 seats instead of 36, JetSuiteX cuts travel time in half by offering customers fare comparable to scheduled airlines but operating from private terminals.
Qatar Airways first announced at the Paris Air Show in 2009 the formation of a corporate jet subsidiary – Qatar Executive – as part of the airline’s ongoing robust global growth strategy, and continued commitment to the Middle East and global business travel community.
In the past year, VistaJet formed Vista Global based in Dubai and then acquired XOJET and JetSmarter rebranding the duo as XO last month.
At the same time, Directional Aviation bought U.K. based charter broker PrivateFly and merged it with its own Skyjet. It recently rolled out fixed-rate whole aircraft charter pricing on over a dozen routes in Europe and from New York to the Los Angeles and San Francisco bay area.
Directional’s Flexjet is thought to be preparing for a major expansion in Europe that would expand its international competition with VistaJet and industry leader NetJets, owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
Qatar Executive’s service portfolio includes aircraft management, airliner charter, maintenance, and FBO services.
JetSuite last year revamped its Suite Key jet card program with the aim of providing a luxury light jet experience.
In addition to adding high-end catering, it launched a partnership with helicopter service Fly Blade and luxury travel advisory EmbarkBeyond, giving customers a seamless end to end travel solutions.
It also added guaranteed availability and fixed hourly rates. Previously it had offered fixed rates on a route by route basis with several million fares.
The company also recruited Flexjet veteran Stephanie Chung who joined founder and CEO Alex Wilcox as president, as well as recruiting several sales and marketing executives from Flexjet and Vistajet.
Members of the JetBlue frequent flier program can earn credits when they fly on JetSuiteX.
JetSuite executives declined to comment on whether or not there are any plans to ramp up cooperation with Qatar Executive, which keeps its footprint mainly outside the U.S. with aircraft based in Europe, Russia, and Asia as well as its home base.
Qatar Executive does not have a jet card but offers a block hours program in addition to on-demand charter.