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AVIATION

Sharjah 2016 | TRANSPORT | VOX POPULI

In addition to its advantageous location, Sharjah's open operating environment and world-class infrastructure make it one of the most competitive airline markets in the region.

Martin Ringrose
MARTIN RINGROSE
Managing Director
Gama Aviation Middle East

We opened the Gama Sharjah Fixed Base Operation (FBO) Lounge in July 2014. Prior to this we operated a service using the main passenger terminal. Initially we relied heavily on support from subcontractors at the airport, but we mostly have our own autonomous capability now. First we operated in Dubai as an aircraft management and charter company. Worldwide, Gama operates ground support services as well as aircraft management services, and it was always the intention to do the same in the UAE. We had a choice between the two Dubai airports and Sharjah. We analyzed the potential for growth, the position from competition, and the opportunities the different airports presented. Dubai International is the world's business airport, but for business aviation it is a victim of its own success, as the busier it gets the harder it becomes to operate business aircraft out of there due to slot restrictions, particularly in the early mornings and even more so in the evenings. Al Maktoum airport, on the other hand, has a large business aviation capability. At the time there was no business aviation capability here at Sharjah and it presented a good opportunity to grow a business from nothing rather than just forcing our way in and competing where everyone else was already located.

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Saleh Al Aroud
SALEH AL AROUD
Chairman
Rus Aviation

Doing business in Sharjah has a family feel to it. We have been the number-one operator at Sharjah Airport for many years. Sharjah is just a few kilometers away from the congested Dubai airport, and serves as an alternative. As a long-term client of Sharjah airport we understand our capabilities and the airport's capacity. In Dubai, you get slots and you have to be on time, and there can be delays while operating cargo. In Sharjah the airport is smaller in commercial terms and has a friendlier environment. We have a big facility and a warehouse inside the airport with access to the ramp, which allows us to have full control of the cargo handling from the time of acceptance till departure. All of the authorities are offering support to business and investments in the UAE, specifically in Sharjah, because we have grown together with the airport. Prior to us there was only a small airport operation, which has been expanded and extended, and we have received a great deal of support from the Sharjah Airport Authority. We are concentrating on the sales agents to generate more cargo and we are happy to have interline agreements with many respected airlines. We are in good shape, even though it is a tough market. The aviation sector for 2016 looks challenging, but we are planning to increase our capacity.

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Dr. Pirouz Hamidian-Rad
DR. PIROUZ HAMIDIAN-RAD
Chairman & CEO
Emir Aviation Services International

Isee three distinctive advantages that Sharjah presents for airline companies. The first advantage is the cost of settting up a company. Setting up in the Sharjah Airport Free Zone was efficient and cost effective in comparison to the other Emirates. The second advantage would be the customs here, which are efficient, and the procedures are straightforward. Getting things through customs is much simpler here than in other Emirates. Accessibility is the third benefit since everything is within reach: the airport, the ports, and many government offices are all within close range. Before, I was operating in Afghanistan, having an IT and a construction company, and after it became unsafe there, my wife and I came to Dubai. We were also in Abu Dhabi, where a local consultant directed us to Sharjah. Some of the types of companies that were already here in Sharjah Airport Free Zone were appealing to us and we went ahead and registered our company in Sharjah. The UAE provides a good operating framework for companies with minimal intervention. However, there are restrictions in place, which could be difficult to meet for a new or growing business. It is, however, still much better than other countries in the GCC as far as the operating conditions are concerned.

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