Private jet companies across the UAE are seeing a surge in bookings for day trips to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup as football fans turn to luxury charters amid rising commercial flight prices.
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Dubai-headquartered Jetex, which bills itself as a “global leader in executive aviation,” said it began receiving enquiries in November from fans looking to charter a private jet, which costs $10,000 an hour to hire.
“We have started seeing a lot of enquiries,” said Jetex founder and CEO Adel Mardini. “I can assure you a lot of people will be flying (via private jet) from Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the day.”
A flight from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Doha takes a litter over one hour. About 1.5 million visitors are expected for the month-long tournament. But with only 130,000 or so rooms provided by hotels, cruise liners anchored off Doha and desert campsites, the wider GCC will be appealing alternative destinations for fans who will make the day trip for matches.
“You can only imagine the demand. There has been something like 17 million queries for football tickets, with only two million available. This is insane, we are talking about nine months before the World Cup,” Mardini said.
Following surging demand, Jetex, which caters to politicians, celebrities, and business executives, is now in talks with Qatar to secure daily landing spots at terminals throughout November, with plans to have two to three 15-seater private jets making daily return trips from the UAE to Doha throughout the World Cup.
“We are working with partners. and we are planning to make an announcement soon, said Mardini. “It will be a ten-hour round trip. They will get picked up in Dubai, taken to Doha for the match and hospitality then return to Dubai.”
Mardini said the fans that go via private jet will have the “pure expansive experience” from private boxes, to a three-course menu on the plane with up to 4,000 dining options.
The number of enquiries to private jets follows a surge in flight tickets prices.
Travelers from most GCC nations can reach Qatar’s Hamad International Airport in about an hour or less.
Qatar Airways flights from Dubai to Doha on Sunday, November 20 are currently priced at $1,700) AED6,150 for a one-way ticket.
Mardini said, considering the costs, especially if people want to travel in first or business class, having a group of six or more people on a private charter “actually is a very good priced alternative.”
Jetex recorded a 300 percent leap in private jet charters in the UAE through 2021, making the emirates the most successful business arm of the global business last year. Mardini said the World Cup will only boost business further.
Kevin Singh, President of Icarus Jet, which has a base in Dubai, said they typically provide ten charters a month but said demand has soared since the onset of COVID-19.
Singh said he would not be surprised that private jet charters soar in the Middle East during the FIFA World Cup.
“Most sports events like the World Cup, the Super Bowl, and tennis matches draw some of the highest concentration of private jets. It will be a busy time,” Singh said.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022.