Rates for VIP air charter flights have fallen up to 20 per cent as the economic slowdown forces travellers to seek budget transport. Cash-strapped owners of private jets in the Gulf are downgrading their own travel plans to go with scheduled airlines as a result of the economic freeze that has spread to the region, said Eliska Hill, the general manager of Chapman Freeborn Aviation Services Dubai. "What we're now finding is that if someone has a Gulfstream V, he can't afford to fly his own aircraft and is asking (the charter companies), 'You sell it, I'm going commercial.'"
The causes of the slowdown are related to the vast erosion of wealth that took place when global stock markets plunged and business activity slowed at the end of last year, she said. "Anybody who had money doesn't have any money right now. We had a lot of Russian clients who invested in property here and that has seen a downturn." In addition, a looming oversupply of new charter jet operators is also causing rates to drop, with new firms setting up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The market for premium air travel has been so affected that Kayala Airlines, a new all-business class airline from Saudi-based National Aviation Services, will shut at the end of the month citing poor market conditions. firstname.lastname@example.org