x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Summer date for private jets at Al Bateen

The region's first airport exclusively for business jets is expected to receive full certification this summer.

The region's first airport exclusively for business jets is expected to receive full certification this summer from the federal aviation authorities, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) says. The state-owned airports company is completing a Dh200 million (US$54.5m) upgrade of Al Bateen Air Base, a military airfield on Abu Dhabi island that will be converted for private air operators as part of the emirate's investment in aviation as a driver of economic growth.

In the past few years two private jet operators, Falcon Aviation Services and Prestige Jet, were granted concessions to operate out of Al Bateen despite its military status. Others, including Al Jaber Aviation, a subsidiary of the Al Jaber Group, are expected to open shop once the airport is fully certified for commercial use. Al Bateen private jet airport, as the facility will be called, will be one of the largest airports for business jets in the world, said Mohammed al Bulooki, the vice president of airline marketing and aeronautical revenue at ADAC.

The airport operator is currently fulfilling the requirements laid down by the General Civil Aviation Authority to convert the military base into a commercial air hub. "The main concerns are safety, security and air navigation services," Mr al Bulooki said. "The military and civilian access also has to be segregated." The UAE Air Force and the Italian Air Force use the airbase and are expected to move out over the next two to four years.

Al Bateen was the first airport in Abu Dhabi, but became a secondary airfield when Abu Dhabi International Airport opened in 1982. In 2007, the Government called for the airfield to be redeveloped as a residential area. However, ADAC was able to protect the airport from redevelopment and announced last year it would become an exclusive airport for business jets. igale@thenational.ae