The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need of physical distancing will lead to an increase in private flying and growth in business aviation, according to Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, Founding and Executive Chairman of The Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA).
Discussing the future of business aviation both globally and specifically in the Middle East, Alnaqbi highlighted that there are significant opportunities for development of the sector and advised companies to invest carefully in aircraft type in the future. With smaller, private terminals with fewer staff on board the aircraft that have a limited number of crew serving passengers – business aviation can deal with the impact of Covid-19 more effectively.
“We are witnessing new groups of people who usually used to fly on commercial airlines now choosing to fly privately”
– Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi
“Business aviation has always had some degree of natural physical distancing in place and as such it is less difficult for companies within this industry to adapt to the new normal,” said Alnaqbi. “We expect to see an increase in demand in private flying and we will see opportunities open up. We are witnessing new groups of people who usually used to fly on commercial airlines now choosing to fly privately.”
Alnaqbi did, however, highlight that 2020 has been a tough year for business aviation in general. Many companies have gone through difficulties this year, to the point where some of them have been close to shutting down. He added that no one is able to properly predict what is going to happen until the end of this year as it depends on the decisions of governments in different countries and the changes in processes and procedures.
The MEBAA Chairman expects there to be a slow recovery this year and is hoping that we see the end of the pandemic by the end of 2020. He is optimistic about the prospects of business aviation for 2021 and highlighted that ensuring health and safety is the number one priority for the industry. MEBAA has worked closely with members in order to support them, communicate with them and to maintain a level of survival between the companies. He added that if the businesses involved work together to protect each other, the future will be bright and that is a collective view of those involved in the industry he added.
The MEBAA Show has been postponed to take place from February 22 until February 24 next year at DWC, Airshow Site. The event was due to take place from 08-10 December 2020 but has been postponed due to concerns related to the evolving Covid-19 outbreak.
“We understand this news will be disappointing to the business aviation industry; however, we believe that in postponing the show to February 2021 we will be better positioned to deliver a quality event for everyone,” added Alnaqbi.
By attending The MEBAA Show, organisations will have the chance to meet business aircraft manufacturers, avionics firms, completion canters, charter companies and aircraft resellers who will display their latest products and services, said a statement.