Ammar “Jay” Alhussari

Founder & CEO, Prime Trip Support

What are your key predictions for the business aviation market in the region in terms of growth, challenges, and opportunities?
All the key indicators show that business aviation will continue to grow in MENA over the next 10 years. According to several sources, including Mordor Intelligence, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for business aviation within the region is expected to be 6% from 2022 to 2027; meaning more aircraft being delivered to the region, more aircraft flying within the region, and more services provided to said aircraft. In addition, a recent Avbuyer report states that there is a global 27.3% uptick in business jet deliveries, but when divided into regions, the area with the largest growth is the Middle East and Africa, with an astounding 78% growth rate. It should be noted that these numbers are for business jets only and does not even take into account the fastest growing market segment of turboprop aircraft. Like the rest of the world, much of this growth is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically how passengers have been switching en masse to the safety, comfort, and convenience of business aviation.
Most of the region is well equipped to handle this increased business aviation traffic. Most of the major cities and destinations already have world-class FBOs and infrastructures capable of providing the highest levels of white-glove service to a demanding customer base. As a service provider, we are seeing increased traffic to the region; clients in the Americas, Europe, and Asia seem to be flying more to the Middle East and we are seeing growth even beyond pre-pandemic levels of flights and services.
In addition to the increased traffic within the region, we are seeing more operators within the region operating smaller, shorter-range equipment. The Middle East has been traditionally dominated by large, wide-body, long-haul aircraft. These aircraft absolutely play a huge roll within the ecosystem, but the influx of smaller, limited range aircraft is positive trend. It means more people are flying on business aircraft when they might have traditionally opted for commercial airline service. The region will grow and continue to increase its strength and foothold in the industry with every one of these flights.
What makes the Middle East (and North Africa) an important growth market for your business?
Prime sees this as two distinct areas of growth. First, each year we are handling more flights operating into the region. We see no signs of this trend slowing down; in fact, borders seem to be relaxing a bit, new trade and commerce routes are being defined, and intra-region travel is at an all-time high. Secondly, as more business aircraft make the region their homebase, they too will need support when traveling internationally. We support both of these customers in unique ways. Operators traveling into the Middle East sporadically (or even regularly) have different requirements and needs than those who are based in the Middle East and flying abroad. Prime has tailor-made service offerings that support both unique client requirements, and we will continue to evolve and expand our solutions catalog as the market continues to grow.
Where do you see opportunities in the industry - Is there a geographical region or industry sector or new tech that you are exploring?
There are several regions that we are keeping our eye on. Southeast Asia has been slower than most to fully open their borders to travel since the COVID-19 pandemic began. When those borders open, we will see an influx of traffic to the region. However, just like we saw in other regions, the service quality may struggle to find its footing while companies (like ground handlers, transportation companies, etc.) begin to bring back furloughed employees, hire new employees, and rebuild their teams. We operate in an industry with zero tolerance for failure or missteps; international service providers, like Prime, will be responsible for making sure services are performed admirably, on time, and safely.
Sustainability seems to be the hot topic of the industry this year. How is balancing between meeting your customers needs and their desire for sustainable options impacting your business?
Sustainability is the word of the decade, and it will continue to be a primary driver for a long time to come. This is a good thing. We see several clients approaching sustainability in a number of ways. One of the more popular things we have noticed is clients who are choosing to voluntarily purchase emission credits and carbon offset credits when they purchase fuel. This is in addition to a growing number of sustainable aviation fuel initiatives and other programs that are aimed to flying responsibly and lessening environmental impact. As a leading service provider, we support a cleaner, healthier environment and will continue to adapt to new technologies and programs as they emerge over the years.
What technologies do you predict will impact the business aviation industry most in the next five years?
Sustainable options seem to be one of the key focuses within the industry. Electric engines, sustainable aviation fuel, and reducing waste are all hot topics that will dominate the industry landscape for the next five years, and beyond. In terms of other technologies, the industry still wants new and progressive technologies in terms of crew scheduling, cost indexing, flight planning, weather, and trip management. Clients want powerful, analytical systems that are simple to use, implement, and network to other systems through the increasing use of application programming interfaces (APIs) and business-to-business collaborative efforts. It’s a long road, because we all want “a system that does everything” and that is easy to incorporate into our workflows. But, many of us are also creatures of habit; it will take a few brave pioneers to jettison some of the older, more ingrained technologies in favor of newer, more expandable technologies emerging into the market.
What are you looking forward to the most at this years MEBAA Show? Who are you looking to meet and will you be launching anything at the Show?
I think we are most looking forward to the return to normalcy. Seeing old and new friends, colleagues, partners, and vendors alike. Face-to-face meetings, handshakes, and cups of coffee instead of droning computer screens and Zoom meetings. The world has proved that we can do business through video conference, but we lose a lot of the personal connection, intent, and social cues when we don’t meet in person. We feel that business is simply better when it is done in person; we are more creative, collaborative, and, quite frankly, it just feels better. As for what we are going to launch at MEBAA? Stay tuned…
Lastly, what are your plans ahead in the region?
Prime has big ambitions across the entire globe, but we have a specific agenda in the Middle East and Northern Africa. First and foremost, we need to provide exemplary support to the influx of business aircraft into the region. More traffic equals more opportunity, and not just to the service companies. Every aircraft that travels to and within the region equates to jobs, industry, and commerce. Also, there is an entire new market of people who have started to fly business aircraft instead of opting for commercial airlines. This is in addition to all the new aircraft of various sizes based in the region. This new market segment needs nurturing and a warm welcome to our industry. Prime is here and we are ready. Visit Prime Trip Support.

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