National Air Services (NAS), the largest and fastest-growing independent provider of aviation services in the Middle East, announced today the allocation of SR15.5 billion to strengthen the company’s fleet with the purchase of some 98 new aircrafts over the next five years.
NAS Chairman, General Ayed Al Jeaid, said that announcing agreements with the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers was in tune with the company’s plans to grow its strategic business units and service new markets for its private and commercial sectors in the region.
NAS currently operates the largest and fastest growing fleet of private aircrafts in the Middle East which comprises of 44 aircrafts from the largest manufacturing companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Gulfstream, Dassault and Raytheon. Following the signing of a number of purchase agreements since the beginning of this year, NAS is expected to increase its fleet size to include142 over the next 5 years, thus, becoming one of the most significant companies operating in the commercial and private aviation sectors in the Middle East.
NAS is the region’s sole provider of both commercial and private aviation services through its four distinct strategic business units, offering its customers innovative, total solutions to meet their various aviation needs. The company is the Middle East representative of NetJets, offering fractional ownership and leasing options, and has for the past six years, been providing this service along with full portfolio of aircraft management services solutions. To complement its package of products, NAS also offers two commercial services, Al Khayala airlines - a scheduled all business class service between the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah as well as regional flights to Dubai – and the recently launched NASair, Saudi Arabia first domestic budget carrier.
During the first half of 2007, NAS finalized four of the biggest deals - in terms of quantity and quality- conducted by the private sector in the history of the aviation markets in the Middle East, the latest of which was announced during the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget where NAS signed agreements with Airbus for the purchase of 38 Airbus 320 aircraft family with a value exceeding 9 billion Saudi riyals, and with Dassault Falcon, to buy 20 of its new large cabin business jet, the Falcon 2000LX, for over 1.9 billion Saudi riyals.
Last month NAS has also announced a similar deal with Gulfstream Aerospace Company to buy 20 long-range Gulfstream G450 business-jet at a cost of 2.6 billion Saudi riyals, only four months after the company purchased 20 new Hawker 750 aircrafts from Raytheon at a cost of one billion Saudi riyals.
In a sign of the company’s sound economic standing and good reputation in international aviation markets, Al Jeaid explained that NAS shall finance the aggressive acquisition plans via local, regional, and international financial institutions. In such financing, NAS will rely on creative financial instruments that will provide attractive investment venues to capital market investors. “said Al Jeaid.
Pointing out to the aircraft selection process, Al Jeaid said: "The selection of new planes is the result of extensive studies, vigorous and interesting negotiations with the manufacturers aiming at building long-term partnership. We have taken into account the diverse needs of the company's services and its aircraft requirements in terms of frame size, load capacity, performance levels and operational cost.”
The recent announcement with Airbus constitute the core fleet of NASair and allow the new budget carrier to operate new domestic and international destinations in the near future. Last December the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation granted Nas the first license to operate scheduled domestic flights from the capital Riyadh and in February launched the kingdom’s first budget carrier under the commercial name of “NASair”.
“The addition of 60 aircrafts - from three different categories – will enhance the company’s aircraft fractional ownership and lease program (NetJets) and caters for the needs of the largest segment of the private aviation sector throughout the region,” added Al Jeaid.
Al Jeaid went on to say that strengthening NAS’ fleet and providing clients with innovative aviation solutions through professional teams plays a pivotal role in expanding the company’s clientele base across many segments of traveling community in the Kingdom and across the Middle East. “Now, more than ever, our clients are interested in alternatives to secure outstanding service with better return” said Al Jeaid. "NAS also seeks to achieve a rewarding return on investment to the company’s shareholders with the same determination,” he added. NAS is expecting to sell portion of the company via IPO in 2008 to share its success with Saudi investors in the capital market.
Al Jeaid added that the company is continuously working on recruiting high caliber professionals from the national and international markets as part of its ongoing employment strategy to cater for the needs of each of the company’s strategic business units.
Al Jeaid also pointed out to the sound economic indications, heightening corporate travel needs, the need for efficient travel services and the liberalization of many of the regions aviation sector. “this lead to a travel market boom and the creation of a healthy environment with many attractive investment opportunities”, said Al Jeaid. "Our fleet expansion plans come in accord with the high demand on private and commercial aviation services which the region is likely to witness in the next ten years,” he concluded.
According to recent statistics, the middle east are witnessing phenomenal growth rates compared to other international markets with an 8% and 7% annual growth rate for the private and commercial aviation markets respectively.
© 2007 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )