by Peter Shaw-Smith
Qatar Executive recently took delivery of a third G650ER, making it the world’s largest operator of the ultra-long-range business aircraft. Recently appointed vice-president of sales and marketing Robert Baltus discussed with AIN how the business aviation branch of the airline plans to incorporate the new jets into its current and future plans. The G650 type joins a fleet that also includes three Bombardier Challenger 605s, four Global 5000s, a Global XRS, and two Airbus A319s. “We have ordered three more from Gulfstream as part of the 30-aircraft sales agreement announced in May 2015,” he said.
“The G650ER is…one of the world’s most technologically advanced next-generation aircraft. For Qatar Executive and our customers it truly represents the future of private air travel, offering a superior flying experience with unrivaled design, comfort and class.”
The G650ER has the longest range at the fastest speed, traveling 7,500 nm/13,890 km at Mach 0.85 and 6,400 nm/11,853 km at Mach 0.90, allowing passengers to travel longer distances non-stop. Due to the lower cabin pressure at normal cruising altitude, passengers say they feel “better rested,” he said.
As part of the 30-aircraft order last year, the timeline for delivery of up to an additional 27 aircraft from Gulfstream is well under way. “We anticipate strong and steady growth in our private-jet business, and our aircraft delivery schedule will reflect that. We have committed to another three G650ERs and are looking forward to the certification of the G500 and G600,” Baltus said.
Gulfstream said within the last two months that the G600 was undergoing structural testing “to determine limit and ultimate loads,” while the G500 is well into its flight-test program and due for certification in 2017. FAA certification of the G600 is expected in 2018.
“We are preparing a relaunch of our brand identity, including a new website, and innovative products that showcase our alignment with the Qatar Airways Group. We are very excited about the future,” he said.
“Qatar Executive has a clear advantage over nearly every other private-jet operator, and that is our strong relationship with Qatar Airways. We have synergies with the mainline [carrier] that make us a more experienced, more well-rounded operator, and of course far more service-oriented.”
The company also has plans to upgrade business and private aviation facilities at Hamad International Airport in Doha, including plans to open a dedicated Qatar Executive Private Terminal.
“Due to the growth at Hamad International Airport, we have amended our plans for the Private Terminal and created high quality interim solutions to ensure that Qatar Executive customers receive the service they expect. The final details of the updated Private Terminal are currently being discussed.”
Like other operators in the region, Qatar Executive sees a slight slowdown in Middle East business and private aviation market growth. “More companies and corporations are capping business travel to business class, however, more high-net-worth individuals are choosing private jets over commercial flying—not just in Europe or North America, but Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
“The demand for private jet travel is growing, and we are concentrating on our home markets of the Middle East, Russia and Asia. Our Gulfstream G650ER fleet is particularly strategic in that it can fly farther and faster than any other private jet, and can connect city pairs that required a refueling stop in the past.”