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Southern comfort

Posted 23 February 2018 · Add Comment

Jetex Flight Support’s latest building at Dubai South won the FBO of the year title at last October’s Aviation Business Awards. Dave Calderwood went along to find out why and also discovered other excellent facilities along the way.

As you cross the threshold into Jetex Flight Support’s latest FBO at Dubai South, it’s like moving into a parallel universe.
From the heat, hustle and bustle of the airport, you move into an atmosphere of calm and serenity quite unlike any FBO anywhere in the world.
Jetex really has pushed the boat out in its new, 1,500sqm flagship facility at the rapidly developing aviation district of Al Maktoum International Airport.
Jetex calls the FBO’s design ‘biophilic’, meaning it connects with nature. “Three tall, freestanding wooden structures serve as inviting cocoons, where travellers can recline and feel their cares drift away,” suggests Jetex’s in-house poet. “Minimalist indoor landscaping and natural light complete the aesthetic, with flower beds, trees and pebble-shaped furnishings combining to evoke an ambience akin to that of a Japanese Zen garden.”
You have to visit to really understand the experience.
The Jetex FBO is one of three at Dubai South’s new VIP terminal, along with Falcon Aviation and Jet Aviation. All three were officially opened and doing business at November’s Dubai Air Show, each with their own specialities.
Apart from the extraordinary design of Jetex’s FBO, there’s a full range of bespoke concierge services for passengers, including a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars for airside transfers. There’s also everything the air crew might need, from trip support, security, flight planning and even a Mototok Twin 7500 remote control pushback – a first in Dubai.
A new 5,000sqm hangar facility is currently under construction and will be available for aircraft storage and maintenance by 2019.
Jet Aviation has added to its FBO at Dubai International (DXB) with its new facility at Dubai South, and expects it to become increasingly busy as business aviation shifts away from DXB.
It’s the centre FBO in the new VIP terminal, with 600sqm of dedicated space for three customer lounges, a conference room, crew lounge and operations centre, two prayer rooms and shower facilities. It is also extending its maintenance approvals from DXB to include line maintenance at Dubai South.
Falcon Aviation is a newcomer to the FBO business with the Abu Dhabi-headquartered helicopter-orientated company expanding into fixed-wing business and private aviation.
It’s almost a year since Falcon opened its FBO at Dubai South and movements are up to 4-6 per day with a target of 20 by mid-2018.
The FBO is the first part of a three-pronged effort by Falcon to establish itself as a VVIP service leader. Second is Falcon’s heliport – the only one certified at Dubai South – and next year will see the third prong, a 15,000sqm business jet maintenance and parking hangar, open at Dubai South.
A key strength for Falcon Aviation is its extensive mixed fleet, which includes an Embraer Legacy 600, a Lineage 1000, three Gulfstream G450/G550s and six Bombardier Q400 turboprops.
Its helicopter fleet is equally impressive with 10 Bell 412EPs, four Airbus Helicopters EC130B4s, four AW109S/SPs, two AW189s and two AW169s.
Falcon’s state-of-the-art FBO has an Arabic theme and has several key features to make its stand out, according to manager Ahmad Badreddine, a business aviation professional with almost a decade of FBO experience in the region.
“There are two private lounges with en-suite bathrooms, a play area for children, communal lounges, meeting rooms, refreshments, a cigar lounge, duty free and on-site customs and immigration, and a first-class crew area complete with lounge, shower, snooze rooms and work stations,” said Badreddine.
All three of the FBOs at the new VIP terminal have gone through the audit process to be awarded the international standard for business aircraft handling (IS-BAH), the set of global industry best practices for business aviation ground-handlers. There’s also an in-terminal duty-free area.
Away from the VIP terminal but still at Dubai South, the two other major FBOs, ExecuJet and DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, have both announced they are developing their facilities, in anticipation of business aviation moving from DXB.
ExecuJet is to relocate its entire Dubai FBO and MRO operations to a single facility located at Dubai South. The move will start this year and will be complete by the end of 2019, in time for the start of Dubai Expo 2020.
The brand new 25,700sqm facility will be ExecuJet’s regional HQ for the Middle East, home to an FBO, MRO services and support services offices. In the meantime, the FBO and MRO line-team, currently in place at DWC, will continue to provide maintenance support 12/7, supported by a 24-hour aircraft-on-ground (AOG) hotline.
Mike Berry of Luxaviation Group, which owns ExecuJet, said: “The Middle East is a key region for us, with roughly 20% of the Luxaviation Group’s overall business stemming from it. It is, therefore, essential that our facilities reflect this demand and it brings me great pleasure to be announcing our relocation to a much larger site at Al Maktoum.
“We began operating in Dubai in 1999 and opened a shared, single lounge FBO facility in 2007 with a team of just four ExecuJet employees. We have come an exceptionally long way in that time and our proposed expansion reflects the ambitious nature of everybody associated with the business. We look forward to welcoming customers to our new facility when it opens its doors in 2019.”
DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF) is a joint venture between Dubai-based Al-Futtaim and Germany’s DC Aviation and, during the Dubai Air Show, it opened its second hangar at Dubai South. It was a major function inside the new hangar, attended by sheikhs, senior Dubai government officials, senior management from Dubai South, VVIPs and heads of major aviation companies from across the globe. It was even sponsored by Lufthansa Technik, Bombardier, Airbus Corporate Jet and Airbus Corporate Helicopters.
The new 7,500sqm hangar more than doubles DCAF’s hangar capacity, bringing its total land-side plot area to 24,000sqm and apron area to 13,000sqm.
Michael Kuhn, CEO DC Aviation Group, said: “We committed to Dubai South at a very early stage, in December 2010, when Mr Omar Al-Futtaim signed the land-lease agreement with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
“From day one, we were fully aware of the tremendous potential. The opening of the second hangar fits in with our expansion plans and enables us to meet the growing demand for business and private jet operations in the aviation district at Dubai South for years to come.”
Once the second hangar becomes operational, DCAF will add multiple single-aisle aircraft maintenance bays and provide space for additional workshop and equipment storage. It also significantly increases the number and size of aircraft that can be accommodated at the facility – up to a Boeing 767-300 – and boosts the cooperation between DC Aviation and Lufthansa Technik.
DCAF is also able to provide line maintenance for the Dassault Falcon 7X following CAR145 approval from the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
DCAF is now able to provide B1 (airframe) and B2 (avionics) maintenance services for the Falcon 7X at Dubai South. Other aircraft supported include Bombardier Global Express, Challenger 604/605, Airbus 320 family, and the Global 6000 and Global 5000 Vision flight deck aircraft types.
The importance of Dubai South and its aviation district was emphasised by His Excellency Khalifa Al Zaffin, executive chairman, Dubai Aviation City Corporation. At the DCAF launch, he said: “The aviation district at Dubai South has been designed to support and grow businesses like DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, where the aviation ecosystem enables them to leverage on the synergies with other suppliers and vendors. We look forward to further successful partnerships, which will serve the regional markets and the UAE leadership’s vision to make the country the aviation capital of the world.”

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