What's next for Emirates Airlines when it comes to private jets?

As neighboring Saudia Arabia and rival Qatar Airways ramp up their focus on private aviation, is Emirates ready to become a player in bizav?

By Doug Gollan, June 4, 2024

After expanding its private jet offering last July, what’s next for Emirates Airlines when it comes to business aviation

Last year, the world’s largest international airline said it would offer regional on-demand charter flights using its fleet of Embraer Phenom 100s.

The very light jets were not an addition to the fleet.

Instead, they were and continue to be used for pilot training.

In 2017, Emirates also made news when it launched its Emirates Executive unit with a VIP Airbus Corporate Jet.

Speaking to Private Jet Card Comparisons in Miami during the launch of a new route to Bogota, Colombia, Emirates Executive Vice President Nabil Sultan Al Murr said expansion into business aviation is not a priority.

He cited three factors in the massive airline’s lack of interest.

First, he said that between Emirates and its sister airline, Fly Dubai, regional network frequencies and quality of service from its Dubai hub mean there is limited demand for short-range flights.

He added that Dubai has a number of quality private jet operators that are capably serving the market.

Lastly, he said, “Private aviation is a different business.”

Sultan Al Murr said his company’s most important goal is to continue providing high-quality service and frequent schedules.

The airline does continue to offer the Phenom 100s as an option based on inbound inquiries.

However, range limits, particularly with luggage and the type’s limited capacity of just four passengers, have dampened uptake.

Private jet Middle East growth

The decision to eschew sector expansion comes as Corporate Jet Investor reports Saudi Arabia wants to become the bizav center of the Middle East.

The trade publication says the Kingdom expects to open seven airports dedicated to private jets by the end of the decade.

Plans also call for having the biggest private jet fleet in the region.

At the same time, Qatar Executive, a unit of Qatar Airways, continues to build its fleet.

Last month it took delivery of its first two Gulfstream G700s.

During a press conference last week at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, Dassault officials said they were in conversations with NetJets, Flexjet, and several other operators about a fleet order.

The French OEM has wanted to re-enter the fleet segment.

Sultan Al Murr didn’t answer directly when asked if Emirates has discussed an order for private jets with Dassault.

While there is a long history of airline involvement in business aviation, not much has come from those efforts.

In the U.S., Delta Air Lines’ recent focus on Wheels Up is thought to have piqued the interest of its two main U.S. competitors.

Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, has said he views private jets as an important part of the airline’s strategy to grow its share of the premium travel market from corporates and UHNWs.

So far, in the Middle East, its leading airline, Emirates, is apparently not ready to join the fray.

READ: A brief history of Airlines and Private Jet partnerships

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