Abu Dhabi start-up GI Aviation is hoping to launch the Gulf’s first single-engined turboprop-based air taxi operation this year, to fulfil what it calls “a growing need for affordable regional charter services of four hours or less”.
The privately-owned venture is hoping to begin operations in the second half of the year with a Pilatus PC-12NG, based at Al Bateen Executive airport. GI took delivery of the eight-seat aircraft (MSN 1604) on 5 March and is scheduled to add a second aircraft in the fourth quarter.
Speaking on 9 March at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo – where GI’s PC-12 was on display – company general manager Marios Belidis said: “We are aiming to fill a gap in the market which is driven by a growing need for travel – from corporations and private individuals – that is affordable, reliable and fits with their travel schedules”.
The PC-12NG has a range of up to 1,200nm (2,220km), which will “enable us to reach destinations such as Jeddah, Doha, Amman and Karachi”, he says.
The company has undertaken extensive research into the market and has identified a need for charter services linking popular city pairs flown by scheduled airline services. Business-class seat prices between Abu Dhabi and Doha are reasonably high and often fully booked, the research shows.
“We’ve reviewed existing demand and established that we can be truly competitive in terms of offering private charter options for comparative scheduled first-class and business-class seat prices. For a similar cost, private or corporate groups can arrange executive charter on one of our aircraft to suit their times, point-to-point requirements, and individual needs. Overall it’s a much more convenient and efficient way of flying,” Belidis adds.
Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records a fleet of five single-engined turboprops in the Middle East, one of which is a PC-12.