After more than 20 years of operations in the Middle East, ExecuJet embarked upon an ambitious upgrade of its Dubai International Airport (DXB) FBO, in addition to building a new facility at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). Dumani Ndebele, Regional FBO Director, ExecuJet Middle East, spoke to EVA about the opening of a new era in the company’s tenure
The DXB FBO was already an impressive facility. Why did ExecuJet decide to upgrade it and what has changed?
We’ve always been proud of our offering, while continually looking at ways we could make it even better. The facility’s homely, comforting feel has been enhanced with modern decor and neutral colours. We also offer a wider range of lounges to accommodate groups, large or small, or individuals, alongside a buzzing crew lounge, and we’ve introduced rain showers. We know client comfort is paramount, so we never rest on our laurels. We’re always looking to ensure we create the right ambiance for relaxation and offer the best possible experience.
The FBO at DWC is brand new. What opportunities does building a new FBO allow you to realise, compared to refurbishing an existing facility? What will be the outstanding features at DWC?
Because we were starting from scratch at DWC, we had the opportunity to set a new standard not only for the region, but globally. We drew on our decades of experience serving private fliers to create an FBO of the future. The additional freedom means we’ll be able to accommodate almost any requirement, whether it’s getting in and out of the airport in record time or choosing to enjoy its seven-star hospitality.
For example, rather than sit in their aircraft waiting, clients who are just stopping for fuel will be able to come into the FBO for an hour-long massage in the spa, relax in our cocktail lounge or visit the cigar lounge. For those who wish to stretch out and relax we’ll have a luxury apartment, as well as three en suite bedrooms, a jacuzzi, steam room, gym and games room. Meanwhile, transatlantic travellers and those coming from the Far East will have the option to freshen up and rest in the FBO rather than rushing to their hotel or meeting.
There will also be an outstanding food and beverage offering, overseen by our resident chef, and an engaging children’s play area. We really are looking to cater to every possible desire.
The DWC facility will be operational in Q3 2023.
ExecuJet has FBOs around the world. Does ‘ExecuJet Middle East’ mean ‘ExecuJet-branded FBOs in the Middle East’ or does it mean ‘Middle Eastern FBOs reflecting local culture and influence, to the high standard ExecuJet customers expect’?
We try to capture regional style and comfort in all our FBOs around the world. Their designs always follow local preferences but the service and attention to detail certainly are the same in them all. Dubai’s FBOs are a fusion of the sophistication and excellence synonymous with ExecuJet and Arabic warmth and hospitality. They reflect what the city is best known for: being multicultural, welcoming and forever evolving. On one hand we have a luxury majlis lounge in which we host a range of delegations and, on the other, a lounge with a stylish pool table and self-service popcorn machine.
Do the FBOs feature dedicated ramp and hangar space? And how about ground support equipment and aircraft services, do you offer these to ExecuJet standards?
The FBOs offer combined dedicated ramp space and hangarage of 33,000m2. Most services are provided in-house by our experienced team, who are genuine experts at meeting clients’ unique needs through personalised service. Where third parties are required, such as for some aspects of aircraft catering and cleaning, we’ve selected world-class partners.
Customers and pilots often choose between FBOs based on the experience and facilities they offer. How will DWC and DXB tempt people away from the region’s other FBOs?
We expect to be the first choice for crew and passengers because we’re offering a destination, not just an FBO. We are bringing Dubai to the airport. We have meticulously examined what motivates FBO choice across all stakeholders and believe we will tick all their boxes.
It is important to give crew the best possible rest and relaxation options and a comfortable environment in which to prepare for their next flight. We therefore provide great facilities for crews, including a double-storey lounge, with computers and a printer, relaxation areas and snooze rooms, entertainment, ice cream, popcorn and gourmet coffee.
Most of all, we have a highly experienced team, most of whom have worked with ExecuJet for more than 10 years. What’s really important is the close relationships they’ve built with our clients, whether they are jet owners, crew, charter brokers, operators or flight support specialists.
The feedback we’ve received on the refurbished DXB FBO has been extremely positive, with many people saying it is the most comfortable FBO they have ever visited. A head of state was so engaged playing pool in the FBO during a fuel stop that the flight had to be delayed!
Was sustainability considered in the DXB refurbishment and DWC construction?
The Luxaviation Group, including ExecuJet, is committed to following UN global sustainable development goals. We offer a carbon offset programme, many of our ramp vehicles have been electrified, we have employee incentive schemes for buying electric cars and we promote cycling to work. The Group is also looking at sustainable aviation fuel procurement opportunities, and digitising processes to reduce paper waste. We have recycling points in all our facilities and we are partnering with Dubai Can on an initiative to reduce plastic waste with the potential to eliminate more than 150,000 plastic bottles and 131 tonnes of CO2.
Finally, you are obviously a business aviation professional, but are you also an aviation person?
I’m very much an aviation person! My entire career has revolved around private aviation, which I enjoy immensely. I have always had an interest in aircraft, but it is the client engagement and need to continuously innovate that has kept me so engaged over the years.