Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founding and executive chairman of the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) has opined that business aviation is positioned for growth given the need for physical distancing presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discussing the future of business aviation both globally and specifically in the Middle East, Alnaqbi highlighted “significant opportunities” for development of the sector and advised companies to invest carefully. He says the industry’s offering of smaller, private terminals, and aircraft with fewer people on board, will mean business aviation can deal with the impact of COVID-19 more effectively.
“Business aviation has always had some degree of natural physical distancing in place and as such it is less difficult for companies within this industry to adapt to the new normal,” said Alnaqbi. “We expect to see an increase in demand in private flying and we will see opportunities open up. We are witnessing new groups of people who usually used to fly on commercial airlines now choosing to fly privately.”
Alnaqbi did however highlight that 2020 has been a tough year for business aviation in general, noting that many companies have gone through difficulties this year, to the point where some have been close to shutting down. He added that no-one is able to properly predict what is going to happen until the end of 2020 as it depends on the decisions of governments in different countries and changes in processes and procedures.
The MEBAA chairman expects there to be a slow recovery in 2020 and is hoping that we see the end of the pandemic by the end of 2020. He is optimistic about the prospects of business aviation for 2021 and highlighted that ensuring health and safety is the number-one priority for the industry. MEBAA has worked closely with members to support and communicate with them. Alnaqbi added that if businesses work together to protect each other, the future will be bright and that is a collective view of those involved in the industry.
“We are lucky that our show will be happening at the end of the year,” said Alnaqbi. “Everybody is excited to have at least one aviation event in 2020. The MEBAA Show will bring confidence back for business and private aviation. People are looking forward to it as most of the other shows have been postponed until next year. The priority is the safety of our colleagues, attendees, exhibitors and partners, and we are monitoring the situation closely. The outlook is positive and if anything happens that forces us to go otherwise, we will put the health and safety of those involved as the overriding priority.”
The MEBAA Show is set to return to Dubai, UAE, on 8-10 December 2020 at DWC, Airshow Site. The event will showcase the latest technologies, insights and business opportunities shaping the future of business aviation in the Middle East and across the globe. Attendees will have the chance to meet business aircraft manufacturers, avionics firms, completion centres, charter companies and aircraft resellers, who will display their latest products and services.