The Holy Month of Ramadan brings a change of pace for even the busiest of working lives, and along with this, it affects the travel trends, said Paras Dhamecha, managing director of Empire Aviation Group.
The Holy Month of Ramadan is a special time of year and has a particular effect on travel as families aim to spend as much time together as possible, and then may consider plans for Umrah or a family vacation at the end of Ramadan, during the Eid celebrations.
The Holy Month of Ramadan brings a change of pace for even the busiest of working lives, and along with this, it affects the travel trends.
Ramadan is a family occasion and many people travel extensively to spend time at the family home or with family members, during the Holy Month.
As a charter operator here in the Middle East, this means that Ramadan is a very active period for us, starting even before the first day of Ramadan. We receive charter booking enquiries from all over the world from people trying to get home to the region, for the start of Ramadan.
But it doesn’t stop there.
We also find that by the middle of the Holy Month, bookings peak yet again as families plan further travel, for example for Umrah – the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Hijaz, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims and which can be undertaken at any time of the year.
The majority of our charter enquiries and bookings for the month of Ramadan are for flights to Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Madina) from the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) as well as Kuwait, Bahrain, and Muscat in Oman.
Bookings are usually made by brokers, while some clients prefer to book directly with us.
Ramadan also concludes with the Eid Al Fitr holiday, and so travel plans may also focus on the family Eid vacation, as well. Popular destinations include the holiday spots and capitals across Europe, and the Indian Ocean – especially the Maldives.
As an aircraft management company, charter is important and accounts for between 20% up to a maximum of 40% of hours on our managed fleet of aircraft but this really depends on owner preference.
Some owners may want to place limits on the number of hours flown each month, while others may be happy to accept any charter opportunities. Unlike in other regions, aircraft owners in the Middle East are generally not reliant on charter to subsidise their standing costs.
Whatever the destination, charter flights around Ramadan and Eid will often be booked for larger family groups along with a significant amount of luggage.
In addition to sufficient seats for the passengers and enough luggage hold space for the bags, the simple fact in private aviation is that if you need to reach a longer-range destination, you probably need to charter a bigger jet (to accommodate the additional crew and fuel required) – and especially if the aim is to reach the destination non-stop.
The benefits of larger aircraft include spacious cabins (some aircraft have private dining/sleeping compartments) for passenger comfort and large baggage storage space, accessible from inside the aircraft. There may also be a washroom and, depending on the aircraft and configuration, charter clients may even be able to opt for two onboard washrooms.
Large-cabin business jets such as the Embraer Legacy 650 series, the Bombardier Global 6000 and Global XRS all have excellent long-range capabilities and these continue to be popular among charter clients.
They also offer generous space to work, relax, dine and sleep, with a very high degree of comfort. The wide stand-up cabins and galleys are well equipped for VIP silver service onboard dining – a welcome option.