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MEBAA Makes Difference To Business Aviation


AeroBD | The AERO news Company…London, Nov. 13, 2015 : The Middle East Business Aviation Association does much more than hold a conference and show in Dubai every two years. It is working hard to develop business aviation across the region, and can point to meaningful results.

“We are working closely and even aggressively on new rules affecting business aviation within the Middle East/North Africa [MENA] region,” says Ali Alnaqbi, founding chairman of MEBAA. Recently, a UAE law affecting advanced passenger information was challenged by MEBAA after authorities wanted FBOs to supply passenger names and details. “This, of course, is not the business of the FBOs but of the holder of the air operator certificate [AOC], so MEBAA raised the flag. We managed to correct the legislation and that information is now supplied by the AOC’s flight operations department,” explained Alnaqbi.

MEBAA is also playing a role in helping Morocco develop business aviation. “Until recently it was difficult to gain AOC and FBO licenses in Morocco to serve the growing amount of aircraft movements within the country,” says Alnaqbi. Morocco has more than 11,000 business aviation movements per year but it doesn’t have a single FBO, although some companies have supervision licenses to perform aircraft handling. They, like other similar companies, have to rent and lease VIP lounges base by base, and pay a fee per flight handled. Before the rules were changed by the Moroccan Ministry in February of this year there were only two full-license handlers approved in Morocco, Royal Air Maroc and Swissport.

“Companies can now apply for FBO licenses, which will allow more companies to open across the country,” says Alnaqbi. “Many companies are now running fast to open at different cities within that country.”

MEBAA members are already seeing the financial benefits of group insurance purchasing. “We developed this membership scheme through a leading underwriter in aviation and a leading London insurance company gaining a more competitive price and better comprehensive coverage for our members,” says Alnaqbi. There are around 70 aircraft in the US$1 billion program at the moment and some [member] companies have made significant savings of 30% to 40%. When the product was launched it was just for the aircraft, but it has now been extended to maintenance, FBOs, personnel and group medical insurance. “They’re getting full cover and saving money,” says Alnaqbi.

Winning Fuel Discounts
Next on the membership agenda is a discounted fuel purchasing scheme. “This is going to take longer to implement as it’s very complicated and we have to make sure we get it right,” says Alnaqbi. The majority of companies operating in the Gulf region only operate one or two aircraft, while others may have as many as 10-15, so MEBAA is working in many directions.

Shades of Gray
Targeting the “gray market” of illegal aircraft charter operations is always a MEBAA priority. “We fight it nonstop as it’s destroying the charter market and throwing good companies out of business.” After five years lecturing on the subject and creating greater passenger awareness of the risks of these illegal charters Alnaqbi thinks the message is getting through. One of MEBAA’s strategies is to contact passengers.

“We decided to fight the gray market indirectly by contacting passengers, and to our surprise many passengers are now asking before they book: ‘Is this a gray market aircraft; are we insured; is it a genuine deal?’ This is a great achievement to get this response.”

A Show in Morocco
In September, MEBAA staged its first business aviation show in Morocco, organized by F&E Aerospace. It attracted 2,033 visitors to Casablanca’s Mohammed V Airport over the two-day event and will now be held every other year in rotation with the MEBAA show in Dubai.

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Rajowan Syed

Rajowan Syed

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