x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

High flyers are lured by London

The growing Middle Eastern ownership of commercial property in the City of London is helping to fuel an increase in the number of business flights into Abu Dhabi.

The growing Middle Eastern ownership of commercial property in the City of London is prompting an increase in the number of private jets flying into the British capital, new research reveals.

The business jet manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft has compiled data that show the number of private jet flights from Middle Eastern destinations to London increased 12 per cent between 2009 and last year.

At the same time Middle Eastern companies built up their ownership of commercial property there to £4.5 billion (Dh26.71bn).

Hawker Beechcraft used figures provided by the UK developer Development Securities and the aircraft research company JetNet to find that there was a correlation between the biggest overseas investors in City commercial property and the number of business jet flights from those destinations into London.

According to the research, investors from the Middle East owned the third-largest number of commercial buildings in the City, ranking behind domestic investors from the United Kingdom and those from Germany.

Of the total 791 commercial buildings in the Square Mile, Arab investors last year accounted for 47, comprising about 6 per cent of the total 84.6 million square feet of City office stock and £4.5bn in value - a similar amount to the previous year but up from just 2 per cent in 2005.

At the same time the number of private jet flights leaving from the Middle East to London increased from 803 in 2009 to 913 last year.

And the number is continuing to increase. Researchers said that in September this year the number of private jet flights from the Middle East stood at 81, a 17.4 per cent increase on the same month the previous year.

Middle Eastern business jet passengers accounted for 2 per cent of the total flights into the UK last year.

"London remains one of the most biggest and influential financial capitals in the world, and it is therefore no surprise to see that commercial properties in the City are still very much sought after by overseas businesses," said Sean McGeough, the HBC president for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

"Not only is London perfect for conducting business on a global scale, but it is also supported by a high number of business airports such as London City, Biggin Hill and Farnborough, allowing for travel into the heart of the city from continental Europe within a matter of hours."

lbarnard@thenational.ae