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MEBA2012: Death of Gulf's grey market within three years?

Posted 11 December 2012 · Add Comment

A new working group to quash the illegal charter market in the Middle East sprang from a session at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference yesterday.

Dave EdwardsThe working group, proposed by Dr Mark Pierotti, COO of Al Jaber Aviation, has the remit to “stamp out the grey market within three years”.

Dr Pierotti is joined on the group by lawyer Aoife O’Sullivan of Gates and Partners; Dave Edwards (pictured), MD of Gama Aviation; James Dowlen, partner Chartis Insurance; and Ali Al Naqbi, chairman of the Middle East Business Aviation Association.
Al Naqbi recommended that the action group create a handbook to give to all member associations within the MENA region on how to deal with the issue. He also called for a member from Saudia to join.
The MEBAA chairman has long been an opponent of illegitimate flying and is launching a new online campaign “Is my flight legal?” during this week’s MEBA show. He has said that up to 25% of the market in the region is ‘grey’, especially in Saudi Arabia, pointing out: “Passengers who fly on a trip that costs 10-20% less than normal should understand that their flight may not be legal.”
O’Sullivan is adamant the group needs to be clear on what is legal or not. She said: “There is no such thing as a grey market, it needs to be black or white.”
Problems with definition frequently arise when an operator charges for a flight that is outside the terms of the AOC under which they are operating. She added: “Most owners don’t know that ownership defaults back to them and that they are taking all the legal liability if anything happens. They are also breaching their financial covenants.”
She believes that making naming a responsible party could be one way of curbing the practice. She explained: “If you’re really concerned about safety, make somebody accountable.”
Gama’s Edwards, meanwhile, would like to see a consolidated regional register and more return in legitimate operators’ investment on adding aircraft to the regional registers.
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