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Private jets face backlog during World Cup

On demand jet provider Vista expects logistics challenges during the World Cup
On demand jet provider Vista expects logistics challenges during the World Cup
  • Vista Global expects demand surge in November and December
  • Jet customers ‘must be flexible’ about travel times

Qatar authorities are putting restrictions in place to manage the expected surge in demand for landing slots from private jets flying to Doha for the World Cup.

Operators have warned that wealthy football fans will need to be flexible with their plans, especially around the later stages of the tournament which takes place from November 20 to December 18.

“There are a lot of restrictions being put in place to fly in and out of Doha because of the expected demand,” Ian Moore, chief commercial officer at Dubai-based Vista Global Holding, the world’s largest on-demand private jet provider, told AGBI.

“There are not as many firm bookings yet because the restrictions are only just coming into play,” he said, adding that the logistics of operating Doha flights during the tournament “is going to be a real challenge”.

Vista reported that it has registered a 43 percent year-on-year increase in membership in the first half of 2022 and it expects the World Cup will be a busy period, with high demand from rich supporters.

“There’s a lot of logistics work behind the scenes to make sure that you can accept the booking,” Moore said.

“The one thing we urge our customers to do is be realistic about what you can and can’t do.

“Whether you stay the night or fly early morning and spend the day there, rather than getting there an hour and a half before the game and leaving an hour and a half after the game, you’ll be in the same position as everyone else.”

Moore said backlogs and delays due to a high demand for slots is common during most World Cups, but the lack of alternative airports will mean the restrictions in Qatar will be intensified.

“Unfortunately, it’s not like when we had the World Cup in Germany [in 2006], and you had the most airports you’ve ever come across, and you can just go wherever you want to go. Even then, it was a challenge on the day of World Cup final.

“We’re going to work with the [Qatari] authorities and the only thing I would ask every customer is that [they need] to plan as early as [they] can and have to be flexible with this reality,” he said. 

DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, also based in Dubai, said it had already seen a surge in requests for private jets to Doha for the tournament.

“We have seen a three-fold increase in enquiries on this route for the period between November and December and this is expected to spike as we move closer to the tournament,” a spokesperson said.

“Typically, for a small group of four to six passengers travelling on a private jet for the World Cup period, the cost could be anywhere from $18,000 (AED66,000) upwards one-way depending on the type and size of the aircraft.”

Private jets into Doha will also be competing for landing slots from commercial airlines from around the region.

Qatar Airways announced in May that fellow Gulf airlines would operate more than 180 daily shuttle flights to Qatar during this year’s tournament, allowing fans to fly in from nearby cities in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC.

The airlines shuttling fans to the games include Emirates, flydubai, Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Kuwait Airways, Air Arabia and Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).

“Like anywhere else there has always been a shortage of accommodation, so we are not unique,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, was quoted by Reuters.

“The biggest challenge for us is because everything is happening in one place.”

Qatar is aiming to attract around 1.2 million visitors from the tournament.