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Mergers tipped to take off in Gulf’s private jet business

  • Charter jet executive Youssef Mouallem says consolidation is coming
  • Private aviation activity is rising steadily, up 10% worldwide in 2022
  • It’s not just business travel – Dubai hotel group is offering ‘party plane’

The private aviation business is set for widespread consolidation in the Gulf, according to a senior executive at a charter jet firm. 

Youssef Mouallem, executive vice president of Vista Global based in Dubai, told AGBI the sector was historically fragmented, but he was expecting to see more mergers and acquisitions.

“Businesses will consolidate and we will have a few big players in the industry, rather than a lot of the small players as we see today,” Mouallem said. 

The private aviation industry has grown steadily since the pandemic, after a sharp rise in 2020 when Covid restrictions grounded scheduled flights.

In 2022 worldwide activity was 10 percent higher than in 2021 and 14 percent up on the 2019 figure, according to data firm WingX.

“A lot of the people that used to fly first class have now migrated to flying private,” Mouallem said.

“Also, businesses that want to fly to cities that they can’t get access to through commercial airlines are using our services to optimise the time of their executives.”

Vista offers corporate clients charter jets that operate as a “boardroom in the sky,” but has also launched an on-demand marketplace for flights. Its XO service covers more than 2,400 planes operated by Vista and its partners.

However, it’s not all work aboard a private jet. Dubai’s Five Hotels and Resorts has launched a $11,000-an-hour “party plane” for its well-heeled guests. 

“I am catering to the 1 percent but that 1 percent is 80 million people – bigger than the population of the UK or Germany,” Aloki Batra, CEO of Five Hospitality, said.

“At $11,000 an hour, this is profitable for us. Now, we are getting offers upward of $20,000 an hour. That just shows in the last two years where the demand has gone vis-a-vis the supply,” he added.

For a peek inside the luxurious 16-passenger party jet and to learn about the future of private aviation in the Gulf, watch the full video