Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Airbus, the maker of the A380 superjumbo, says it has received enquiries for a VIP version from the Middle East.
Chris Ratcliffe 706780
Airbus, the maker of the A380 superjumbo, says it has received enquiries for a VIP version from the Middle East.

Luxury travel makes a comeback at Dubai air show

Hundreds of aviation firms are in town to showcase their aircraft at the Middle East Business Aviation Show.

Airbus is in talks to sell two additional Airbus A380 superjumbos to private individuals, the company's Middle East president said yesterday, emphasising a growing appetite for luxury amenities as the global economy gains strength.

The news comes as Airbus and hundreds of global aviation companies showcase their aircraft at the Middle East Business Aviation Show (MEBA), the largest event for business jets in the region, which begins today in Dubai. An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, was sold privately to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi billionaire, in 2007. The plane costs about US$300 million (Dh1.1 billion) at list prices.

Habib Fekih, the president of Airbus Middle East, said two more individuals had approached the aircraft maker about its VIP version. He declined to say where the individuals were from. "We have given new offers and we will see," he said. Similarly, Boeing said this summer it expected to sell six of its largest planes, the new 747-8, to private individuals within the next year, in deals totalling up to $1.2bn at list prices.

Business jets, considered the epitome of corporate excess during the financial downturn, are in the early stages of a comeback as speed again challenges cost in the calculus for executive travel.

At MEBA 2008, just as the downturn began to set in, some $1.5bn worth of deals were announced, with 78 aircraft on display and 250 exhibitors in attendance. This year's show should surpass these records with more than 330 companies exhibiting, say show organisers.

While there are about 400 business jets based in the Middle East, including Turkey, this is set to more than double throughout the decade, according to Bombardier Business Aircraft.

Abu Dhabi has positioned Al Bateen Executive Airport, the former military airbase on Abu Dhabi island, to cash in on the region's affluence and appetite for luxury travel.

With competition from executive jet airports in Dubai, Doha and even at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the airport has spent $46.3m upgrading facilities over the past few years. Its most recent upgrade is an instrument landing system that will provide precision guidance to aircraft.

The airport has additional plans for safety and security systems, enhancing customer service, and new retail and hotel projects. "What you'd expect at one of the world's top-class airports," said Steve Jones, the general manager of Al Bateen airport.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National