Saudia Private Aviation (SPA) is a strategic business unit of Saudi Arabia Airlines. It has a fleet which offers both ultra long range and regional capability and has also partnered up – namely with Comlux – to provide a complete solution to business aviation needs in the region and beyond. Based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and with FBOs planned in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Madina, SPA is perfectly placed to stand at the forefront of business aviation in the Middle East region. Executive & VIP Aviation International (EVA) speaks to Wajdi Abdullah Al Idrissi (WAAI), Managing Director of SPA
EVA What does the owned fleet currently comprise and what is on order? How is this owned fleet set to change over the coming decade in terms of aircraft types and the number of units?
WAAI The current fleet consist of our Hawker 400XPs and our Falcon 7Xs. We have six Hawker 400XPs and three Falcon 7Xs. Also, we’ve placed one more Falcon 7X aircraft on order and we shall receive it during this year. Currently, we’re adapting to the increasing demand for private aviation, thus we are requesting more aircraft as more individuals, companies and other interested organisations need them.
EVA And aircraft management? What is your ambition for managing aircraft and do you already manage third-party business jets?
WAAI Currently SPA provides services for 28 aircrafts, our ambition regarding aircraft management is to give more efficient and reliable services to our customers and meet their needs. Our services will include catering, maintenance, operation and ground services as well.
EVA What is driving your requirement to expand your business jet fleet? Is it caused by demand from your home base or from the region generally? Will you expand into airliner sized aircraft too?
WAAI Our main demand is based on our home-base business requirement as more than 75% of private aviation is located within KSA and the other demand comes from the GCC countries in addition to the international market, through our reliable business associates, brokers and direct contacts. Because of our long experience, we will expand into airliner sized aircraft, Currently SPA uses the Saudi Airlines fleet to cover the demand, We are planning to have airliner sized aircraft with VIP generation.
EVA What is the basis for your agreement with Comlux Middle East? Does it enable SPA to grow faster, both in the Middle East and in Europe? Presumably it opens new avenues for Comlux too?
WAAI Our agreement with Comlux Middle East helps us to expand our coverage and to satisfy our customers’ needs regarding ACJ requirements. This type of agreement will enable SPA to have reliable partners, to expand our network through strategic alliances regionally and internationally.
EVA Will the FBO at Jeddah be the only facility you build or are there opportunities for other FBOs/service centres in the Kingdom – or within your region? Are you looking further afield too?
WAAI The SPA FBO at Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport will be opened early next year which will enable SPA to give better services to our dedicated clients in terms of aircraft management, ground services and technical services, etc. Also, our aim is to have an FBO at our main airports such as Riyadh, Dammam and Madina. We are coordinating with GACA to meet our future plans.
EVA What has been the feedback in relation to your existing fleet of Falcon 7X aircraft? Has it met all expectations?
WAAI We’ve been getting positive feedback. After all, adding the Falcon 7X to the fleet was about meeting the demands of our valued clients. Yes, indeed, the Falcon 7X has met our expectations.
EVA What about the Hawker 400XPs? What is their mission within your fleet?
WAAI Our fleet of Hawker 400XPs cover most of the short haul flights domestically and regionally such as (DXB, CAI, BEY, DOH, KWI, AUH… etc.) with a very suitable price for businessmen and families and a total of six passengers per flight.
EVA Are you investigating any other aircraft types and do you think your fleet will be more diverse in the future?
WAAI Yes, we are looking at medium sized executive jets with 10-14 passengers for the range KSA to London non-stop. This will enable SPA to compete more efficiently. Also, the flexibility for modifying the fleet will always be there in order to compete in the market.
EVA To what extent does SPA work with the airline to deliver services to passengers that dovetail with each other? Or is SPA a totally stand-alone business?
WAAI SPA is a daughter company of Saudi Arabian Airlines and we work independently as a private aviation provider with a dedicated team to offer special services to meet customers’ expectations.
EVA Do you have a master plan which delivers a snapshot of the size and scope of SPA by a set date in the future?
WAAI Our plan for SPA is to have 20 privately owned aircraft by the year 2020 plus a minimum of 20 aircraft under full management. We are optimistic that we will exceed these expectations due to our existing market growth and the high demands for private aviation.