Qatar Airways is planning to enter the air charter market later this year with a fleet of Bombardier business jets, the airline's chief executive said at the Paris Air Show. The corporate jet division, which will be based in Doha alongside Qatar Airways's fast-expanding commercial airline division, will be named Qatar Executive, Akbar al Baker said. "We are launching this with three Bombardier aircraft: a Challenger 300, which is already operating, and two new Challenger 605s," he said. The Challenger 300 carries up to eight passengers, and the 605 up to 12.
Qatar Airways also made the largest aircraft order at the air show, being held at Le Bourget airport on the outskirts of Paris this week, with a firm contract for 24 aircraft in the Airbus A320 family, worth US$1.9 billion (Dh6.97bn) at list prices. Qatar Executive is due to be launched in the autumn and will cater to destinations within eight hours' flying time, which will include Europe, according to Flight Global magazine. The Challenger 605s are expected to be delivered by next month.
The plans come as the business jet market has declined by roughly 20 per cent in the Gulf because of the economic slowdown, although local operators have fared far better than those in Europe and North America. Qatar Airways already runs the country's VIP air service for its royal family, and currently operates the single Challenger 300, which will be moved over to Qatar Executive. It also owns a Bombardier Global Express as well as aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.