Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies

The Red Sea International Airport, located within three hours’ flying time of 250 million people, launched its first international flights earlier this year. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 27 May 2024
Follow

Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies

  • Sector set to grow at compounded annual growth rate of 8.88 percent between 2025 and 2029

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s business aviation sector is experiencing a surge fueled by the Kingdom’s expanding economy, significant government investment on infrastructure, and a growing influx of high-net-worth individuals.

Valued at $1.2 billion in 2023 according to TechSCI research, this segment is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.88 percent between 2025 and 2029.

It was also highlighted in the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s roadmap unveiled at Riyadh’s Future Aviation Forum in May.

The roadmap aims to support the Kingdom’s development as a global high-value business and tourist destination.

Additionally, it targets a tenfold increase in the contribution to gross domestic product by the general aviation sector to $2 billion by 2030, covering the business jet segment, including charter, private, and corporate planes.

Farid Gharzeddine, captain and CEO of Dubai based private jet company SkyMark Executive, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia’s private aviation and charter business have always been thriving, serving individuals, business executives, government officials, and special missions.”




Farid Gharzeddine, Captain and CEO of SkyMark Executive. (Supplied)

He added: “In 2023, this sector experienced significant growth driven by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its efforts to diversify away from oil, particularly through the promotion of sectors such as tourism and entertainment. These initiatives had a substantial impact on the private charter industry, influencing both destinations and clientele.”

During this timeframe, he explained that SkyMark Executive, functioning as a private aircraft provider, observed a significant uptick in requests for flights transporting tourists, entertainers, and artists from abroad to emerging destinations such as AlUla, the Red Sea airport, and others.

The Red Sea International Airport, located within three hours’ flying time of 250 million people, launched its first international flights earlier this year.

With a capacity to serve 1 million guests annually, according to the group’s CEO John Pagano, this milestone marks a significant step towards establishing Saudi Arabia as a premier global tourism destination.

According to a research by Mortor intelligence, the GCC region is highly promising for business aviation, and is also a lucrative market for the private aviation sector, due to the presence of a large number of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals in the region.

The influx of multinational companies establishing regional headquarters in Riyadh, driven by the Kingdom's efforts to increase foreign direct investment, may have boosted demand for private aviation. This stems from the need for efficient, flexible travel options for corporate executives and high-net-worth individuals, fueling growth in private jet and charter services.

Players are investing in technological advancements to enhance aircraft manufacturing, navigation, and maintenance, anticipating growth in demand for new business jet models offering increased cabin space and long-range capabilities.

Manufacturers such as Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Embraer are focusing on luxury, technology, and performance enhancements to appeal to GCC customers, positioning themselves for growth in the forecast period.




Manufacturers are focusing on luxury, technology, and performance enhancements to appeal to GCC customers, positioning themselves for growth in the forecast period. (Supplied)

Evidence of this is Qatar Executive’s position as the largest operator in the world for two new models from Gulfstream, G500 and G650ER.

Gharzeddine commented that his company’s clients from Saudi Arabia are often one of the most discerning clientele and prioritize state-of-the-art technological advancements when selecting aircraft for their travel needs.

“These clients prioritize excellence in service delivery, emphasizing both technological sophistication and exceptional service standards. They are committed to enhancing their travel experiences to achieve the utmost levels of comfort, safety, and luxury,” he added.

Furthermore, this segment can benefit from Saudi Arabia’s aviation strategy, which aims to expand connectivity to over 250 destinations by 2030. A key component of this plan is privatization, exemplified by the Kingdom's implementation of the first successful public-private partnership model in the Middle East.

GACA also announced during the Future Aviation Forum its targeted investments in six new specialized general aviation airports in the Kingdom, alongside other initiatives.

"These investments are anticipated to enhance infrastructure and service quality within the private aviation sector, making it more appealing to high-net-worth individuals and corporate clients," Gharzeddine commented.

"Improved facilities and services will likely drive increased demand for private jet charters and ownership, boosting the overall efficiency and capacity of the aviation sector. Additionally, these developments will help position Saudi Arabia as a key hub for private aviation in the Gulf region," he added.

Charter business and sustainability

Leading the change in sustainable aviation growth, Saudi Arabia announced its finalization of a comprehensive plan in November to address environmental sustainability within its civil aviation sector, in line with international commitments such as the 2015 Paris  Agreement.

Spearheaded by GACA, the Civil Aviation Environmental Sustainability Plan targets the reduction of greenhouse gas releases, with a zero-emissions goal by 2060.

Saudi Arabia’s initiatives extend to hydrogen fuel infrastructure and green projects like the Circular Carbon Economy, while major developments such as AMAALA and the Red Sea project reflect a commitment to net-zero emissions.

Global business and government leaders consider sustainable aviation fuel a key opportunity for significant reductions in air travel emissions, with numerous initiatives underway to make this energy product a reality.

SAF is derived from renewable hydrocarbon sources and can reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent compared to traditional fossil-based jet fuel.

However, the primary challenge is supply and demand, as production needs to increase significantly to meet the set targets by 2030.

According to Gharzeddine, in addition to the limited supply, achieving economies of scale to reduce production costs is also an ongoing issue, as is the high charge of specialized processing required for biofuels.

Maryam Al-Balooshi, the UAE’s lead negotiator for aviation climate change, also emphasized the urgent need for Gulf countries to produce SAF to compete in the Western-dominated market and support greener flights, as reported by the National News in February.

An important aspect to consider is how technology and artificial intelligence can play pivotal roles in driving sustainable aviation. Advanced flight planning systems use AI to optimize flight paths, reducing fuel consumption and minimizing carbon emissions.

“By analyzing weather patterns, air traffic, and aircraft performance in real-time, AI can suggest more efficient routes and altitudes, ensuring flights operate at maximum efficiency,” Gharzeddine explained.

Predictive maintenance powered by AI also enhances sustainability by identifying potential issues before they become significant problems, thereby reducing downtime and extending the lifespan of aircraft components.

Additionally, AI-driven data analytics can help monitor and manage the carbon footprint of each flight, enabling operators to make informed decisions about fuel usage, weight management, and other factors that influence emissions.

By leveraging advanced technology, AI, and SAF, the private aviation sector in Saudi Arabia can meet growing demand while setting a benchmark for sustainability in the global aviation industry.


Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

Updated 20 June 2024
Follow

Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

LONDON: Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry’s Statistical Review of World Energy report said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme.

“We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead,” Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.

Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 Exajoules, the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time.

“In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged,” Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.

The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil fuel share of energy fell below 70 percent for the first time since the industrial revolution.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth,” Energy Institute Chief Executive Nick Wayth said.

Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023. They took over from BP last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s.

Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6 percent to a new high.

But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year.

“China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable,” KPMG’s Virley told reporters.

Report Highlights

Consumption

  • Global primary energy demand rose by 2 percent in 2023 from 2022, to 620 EJ.
  • Fossil fuel use rose 1.5 percent to 505 EJ, which accounted for 81.5 percent of the overall energy mix, down by 0.5 percent from 2022.
  • Fossil fuel use did not increase in a single European country in 2023.
  • Electricity generation rose by 2.5 percent in 2023, up slightly from 2.3 percent of growth the previous year.
  • Renewable fuel generation – excluding hydro – gained 13 percent to a new record high of 4,748 terawatt-hours.
  • Renewables’ share of the overall energy mix excluding hydro was 8 percent, up from 7.5 percent in the 2022 report.
  • Including hydro renewables accounted for 15 percent of the global mix.

Oil

  • Oil consumption exceeded 100 million bpd in 2023 for the first time ever, following a 2 percent year-on-year rise.
  • Oil supply growth was met by non-OPEC+ producers, with US output gaining 9 percent on the year.
  • China overtook the US as the country with the largest refining capacity in the world last year at 18.5 million bpd, though refining volumes still lagged behind at 82 percent utilization vs the US’ 87 percent.
  • Global gasoline consumption hit 25 million bpd last year, just above its 2019 pre-pandemic level.
  • Biofuels production increased by 8 percent to 2.1 million bpd in 2023, driven by gains in the US and Brazil.
  • The US, Brazil, and Europe accounted for 80 percent of global biofuels consumption.

Natural Gas

  • Global gas production and consumption remained relatively flat on the year in 2023.
  • LNG supply rose by almost 2 percent to 549 billion cubic meters (bcm).
  • The US overtook Qatar as the leading global supplier of LNG after a 10 percent rise in production.
  • Overall European gas demand was down 7 percent on the year in 2023.
  • Russia’s share of European gas supply was just 15 percent in 2023, from 45 percent in 2021.

Coal

  • Coal consumption hit a new high of 164 EJ in 2023, up 1.6 percent on the year, driven by China and India.
  • India’s coal consumption exceeded that of Europe and North America combined.
  • US coal consumption fell by 17 percent in 2023 and has halved in the last decade.

Renewables

  • The record high in renewable generation was driven by higher wind and solar capacity, with 67 percent more additions in those two categories in 2023 than 2022.
  • As much as 74 percent of net growth in overall power generation came from renewables.
  • China accounted for 55 percent of all renewable generation additions in 2023, and was responsible for 63 percent of new global wind and solar capacity.

Emissions

  • Emissions grew by 2 percent on the year to exceed 40 gigatons.
  • Emissions rose despite the slight drop in fossil fuels’ share of the energy mix, because emissions within the fossil fuels category became more intense as oil and coal use rose and gas held steady.
  • The report notes that since 2000, emissions from energy have increased by 50 percent.

Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

Updated 20 June 2024
Follow

Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

SINGAPORE: Brent oil futures were little changed in Asia on Thursday, hovering slightly below seven-week highs, as the market weighed geopolitical developments in the Middle East while waiting for US inventory data.

August Brent rose 9 cents to $85.16 per barrel by 9:30 a.m. Saudi time.

Meanwhile, US West Texas Intermediate futures for July, which expire on Thursday, dipped 15 cents at $81.42 per barrel.

There was no WTI settlement on Wednesday due to a US holiday, which kept trading largely subdued. The more active August contract fell 15 cents to $80.56 per barrel.

Brent crude futures edged up in early trade on Thursday as the market digested news of Israeli tanks advancing into Gaza.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks, warplanes and drones, moved farther into the city of Rafah, killing eight people, residents and Palestinian medics said.

“Markets anticipate an escalation in the Gaza crisis to dent the oil supplies from the key producing region,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

However, the concerns over an inventory build appear to be overshadowing fears of escalating geopolitical stress for now, Sachdeva said.

WTI crude slipped ahead of the US government’s oil inventories report, which was delayed by a day due to the national holiday.

The Energy Information Administration is due to release last week’s oil stocks data at 6:00 p.m. Saudi time on Thursday.

An industry report released on Tuesday showed US crude stocks rose by 2.264 million barrels in the week ended June 14, market sources said, citing American Petroleum Institute figures, while gasoline inventories fell.

“EIA’s weekly oil inventory report will be scoured for any signs of weak demand,” said ANZ Research analysts on Thursday. 


Saudi Arabia set to welcome 300 millionaires in 2024: Henley & Partners

Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia set to welcome 300 millionaires in 2024: Henley & Partners

RIYADH: As many as 300 millionaires will flock to Saudi Arabia in 2024 as the Kingdom continues to attract high-net-worth individuals, according to a study. 

In its latest report, Henley & Partners said that Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh as well as Jeddah are becoming “increasingly popular” with immigrant millionaires,especially from North Africa and the Middle East. 

“In our view, these two cities have the potential to mimic Dubai and Abu Dhabi in attracting large numbers of wealthy expats in the future,” said the British consultancy firm in the release. 

According to the analysis, the UAE is continuing its run as the top destination of choice for HNWI, with an estimated 6,700 millionaires expected to make the country their home by the end of 2024.

“For the third year running, the UAE looks set to take first place as the world’s leading wealth magnet, with a record-breaking 6,700 moneyed migrants expected to make the Emirates home by the end of the year, significantly boosted by large inflows from the UK and Europe,” said the British consultancy. 

According to the report, the UAE’s tax-free income, golden visa residency program, and geographic location have made it a favorite destination for migrating millionaires. 

The Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, Dominic Volek, said that 2024 is shaping up to be a watershed moment in the global migration of wealth. 

“An unprecedented 128,000 millionaires are expected to relocate worldwide this year, eclipsing the previous record of 120,000 set in 2023. As the world grapples with a perfect storm of geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval, millionaires are voting with their feet in record numbers,” said Volek. 

He added: “In many respects, this great millionaire migration is a leading indicator, signaling a profound shift in the global landscape and the tectonic plates of wealth and power, with far-reaching implications for the future trajectory of the nations they leave behind or those which they make their new home.” 

The UAE is followed by the US and Singapore, with 3,800 and 3,500 millionaires set to live in these countries by the end of this year. 

Canada grabbed fourth place in the list, with a projected 3,200 HNWI flocking to the country, followed by Australia and Italy with 2,500 and 2,200 millionaires coming to these nations, respectively. 

Switzerland came in the sixth spot in the list, with an estimated 1,500 millionaires relocating to the country, followed by Greece and Portugal at 1,200 and 800, respectively. 

The report highlighted that the UK is expected to see an unprecedented net loss of 9,500 millionaires in 2024 — second only to China worldwide and more than double the 4,200 who left the country last year. 

According to the analysis, China is expected to be the biggest millionaire loser globally, with an anticipated net exit of 15,200 HNWIs this year, compared to 13,800 in 2023.


Egypt’s exports surge 9.8% to $16.55bn amid global trade expansion

Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

Egypt’s exports surge 9.8% to $16.55bn amid global trade expansion

RIYADH: Egypt’s merchandise exports soared by 9.8 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2024 to reach $16.55 billion, according to a top official.     

Exports increased every month over the period, underscoring the north African country’s ongoing expansion in global trade, according to Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ahmed Samir.   

Notable items that contributed to the growth included fresh and dried citrus fruits valued at $721 million, wires at $353 million, and manufactured petroleum oils at $186 million.      

Key export sectors also included building materials, valued at $3.86 billion, the food industry at $2.64 billion, and chemical products and fertilizers estimated at $2.49 billion.   

Agricultural crops were worth $2.26 billion, according to a statement.   

The ministry aims to bolster exports across all sectors to diverse global markets in the coming phase, emphasizing collaboration between government entities, business communities, and Egyptian exporters to enhance product quality and competitiveness. 

This effort supports Egypt’s target of achieving $100 billion in annual merchandise exports.   

Moreover, the statement revealed that Saudi Arabia emerged as the top market for Egyptian merchandise exports during this period, totaling $1.39 billion. 

Following Saudi Arabia, Turkiye accounted for $1.31 billion, the UAE at $1.13 billion, Italy with $974 million, and the US at $904 million.   

In May, Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics revealed that the value of Egyptian exports to Arab countries surged 8.7 percent year-on-year, reaching $13.6 billion in 2023. 

Saudi Arabia led among Arab nations in importing from Egypt, with exports totaling $2.7 billion during the year, according to the statement issued last month. 

This trend underscores the substantial growth in trade relations, partnerships, joint projects, and development investments between the two countries in recent years.     

Last month, the International Monetary Fund projected that Egypt’s foreign cash inflows would come from five sources, including commodity exports, tourism and Suez Canal revenues, as well as private transfers and net foreign direct investment.      

The fiscal year 2023-2024 total will be around $107.3 billion, compared to about $93.6 billion in 2022-2023.      

However, the IMF anticipates inflows to decrease again in the next fiscal year, dropping below the previous year’s level to approximately $91.2 billion. 


King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Port’s crane capacity has been boosted by 9.7 percent as part of an SR7 billion ($1.86 billion) investment deal.

The facility, operated by Saudi Global Ports Co., has received three automated quay and three rubber-tired gantry cranes, increasing its handling infrastructure.

According to a press release from Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, this addition brings the total number of quay cranes to 18 and gantry cranes to 50, enhancing the Dammam port’s workflow and enabling it to handle large ships efficiently.

These enhancements are made under commercial contracts between Mawani and Saudi Global Ports Co. 

This development is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen King Abdulaziz Port’s position as a competitive and sustainable global hub.

The new cranes can reach a minimum of 25 rows, which facilitates the efficient handling of advanced and large ships. 

Additionally, the use of modern cranes contributes to improving the skills of the workforce, supporting the Saudi ports system and solidifying the Kingdom’s growing role in the global logistics chain.

This upgrade aligns with the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to establish the nation as a global logistics center and a key link between continents.

Saudi ports are experiencing a constant surge in handling shipments. In March, terminals in the Kingdom recorded a 12.48 percent increase in the number of received containers compared to the same period last year, according to official data from Mawani.

The Authority disclosed that terminals in Saudi Arabia received 265,148 standard containers in the third month of 2024, marking an annual increase from 235,738.  

Furthermore, the maritime facilities experienced a 3.77 percent uptick in the volume of handled tonnage, reaching 19.64 million tonnes, in contrast to 18.93 million tonnes recorded in March 2023.    

“This reflects the scale of efforts made to develop port infrastructure and provide the highest levels of logistics services,” Mawani stated in a statement.

The Kingdom’s general shipment volumes reached 804,837 tonnes, solid bulk cargo reached 3.94 million tonnes, and liquid bulk freight reached 14.74 million tonnes.

A report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development revealed that Mawani climbed from 76.16 points in the second quarter of 2023 to 77.66 points in the third quarter of last year, affirming Saudi Arabia’s progress in the maritime sector.

Moreover, the Kingdom has consistently pursued global collaborations in the maritime sector, the latest of which occurred at the second edition of Vision Golfe 2024, held in Paris on June 4.

At the event, Mawani signed an agreement with the French Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty and its Marseille counterpart as part of France and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to excellence in trade and maritime transport.