Aviation Dubai leisure airline courts Middle East investors By Gavin Gibbon October 13, 2023 Beond Luxury leisure airline Beond aims to make the flight an enjoyable element of the holiday experience Beond has big plans to spread its wings CEO Tero Taskila seeks support from investment firms Rapid growth of fleet and routes is planned A new luxury leisure airline, which is set to operate routes from Dubai and Riyadh to the Maldives, is looking for potential investors from the Middle East to fund its long-term expansion plans. Headquartered in Dubai, Beond was unveiled this week at the emirate’s Al Maktoum International Airport. Funding for the luxury airline came from European family funds and venture capitalists. Tero Taskila, CEO of Beond, revealed they are opening up to “bigger investment firms in Europe and in the Middle East”. Saudia plans first bond issue to fund fleet expansion Air Arabia to bring low fares to lucrative London route Damac expands to the Maldives with resort deal “The next round will be from the institutional investors,” Taskila told reporters on Wednesday. The company, which was founded two years ago, currently has a single Airbus A319 aircraft which carries 44 passengers. Beond will initially serve customers from Riyadh, Munich and Zurich, when commercial operations start next month. Routes from Dubai and Milan will take off from March next year, Taskila said. Al Maktoum International Airport will also initially be used as a refuelling stop for Beond’s European flights. One-way airfares start at €1,500 (AED6,000) per person, depending on the origin. “We believe in affordable luxury,” added Taskila. BeondBeond currently has a single Airbus A319 aircraft which carries 44 passengers but the fleet is set to grow rapidly The airline, which has hired a team of 140 employees including more than 50 pilots and crew, will take delivery of an Airbus A321ceo aircraft later this year. Further Airbus 321LR/XLR aircraft are scheduled to arrive in the beginning of 2024. Taskila said the planned “rapid increase” over the next five years included ramping up the fleet to 32 aircraft serving 60 destinations. “Typically when you travel to luxury destinations, the air travel is the unnecessary evil and there is a breakage between that wonderful resort experience and the travel to get there,” said Taskila. “We want to break that mould and have an experience which is seamless.” Maldives increases capacity Fitch Solutions expects real GDP growth in the Maldives to slow from an estimated 13.9 percent in 2022 to 7.3 percent this year. According to estimates from the World Bank, the tourism sector directly accounts for nearly one-third of the economy and is an even larger contributor indirectly. As of April this year, the Maldives had welcomed 23,453 tourists from the Middle East with Saudi Arabia, ranking as the top 19th market to the South Asian archipelagic state. With a target to add 35,000 new beds to the sector and opening of a new runway at the main international airport in Male, the government has estimated there will be 2 million arrivals in 2023.