Dubai to RAK in 27 mins: UAE firm to connect all emirates, increase heliports to 30 in 3 years

The firm is also looking to create bespoke packages along with hospitality partners to serve tourists


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: Reuters (Image used for illustrative purposes only)
Photo: Reuters (Image used for illustrative purposes only)

Published: Thu 23 May 2024, 5:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 May 2024, 10:27 PM

A UAE-based company will soon make an inter-emirate private helicopter service more easily available in the country. Air Chateau International will make it possible for passengers to travel from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah in less than 30 minutes.

“We will build at least six new heliports in various emirates across the UAE,” said Dr Samir Mohammed, Founder, Chairman and MD of Air Chateau International. “Passengers can come to our facility at Al Maktoum airport and then take a helicopter to Ras Al Khaimah in about 24 to 27 minutes, depending on the wind.”

The company has shortlisted 20 locations – of which 6-8 will be finalised with work beginning on them before the end of the year. “Some of them are existing helipads that need upgrades. In other places we will build them from scratch,” he said.

From left: Dr. Samir Mohamed, Chairman of Air Chateau and Mr. Shilton Tony Irudayaraj, CEO of Air Chateau
From left: Dr. Samir Mohamed, Chairman of Air Chateau and Mr. Shilton Tony Irudayaraj, CEO of Air Chateau

“We will be looking to connect all emirates including Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Abu Dhabi. We are also looking at the hotspot, which is Hatta. We want to get people to travel to Hatta more often from here and experience the place.”

Although the firm currently operates inter-emirate flights, the locations are very limited. Often, access is only given to remote areas of the emirate where a heliport is available. Over the next 2-3 years, the number of locations will be increased to 30 to make it more accessible to residents and tourists.

According to Dr Samir, a lot of interest has been observed for Hatta. “We are working closely with the hospitality companies who have shown keen interest because this service would enhance their own experience for their clients and guests,” he said. “So in line with that, we are going to work with all of these people to curate best experiences for tourists.”

Hybrid locations

One of the highlights of the heliports will be that they are multifunctional. “These heliports will be hybrid,” said Shilton Tony Irudayaraj, co-founder and CEO of the company. “Once completed, they can be used as heliports as well as vertiports where eVTOL aircrafts can also use them to land. This will help the air ecosystem to achieve more robust growth.”

Last year, Air Chateau had signed an agreement with the US-based electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Archer Aviation to purchase up to 100 of the company’s Midnight aircraft for nearly $500 million, as part of a plan to launch electric air taxi services in the UAE.

The aim of the company is to provide ultra-premium last-mile connectivity and according to Shilton, they are seeing increasing demand. “Last year we had more than 17,000 movements of private jets here at the facility,” he said. “And that's our base market that we're looking at – connecting these passengers or travellers to various points within Dubai and across the UAE.”

Densely populated areas

The company will look for densely populated areas to build its heliports. “We want to serve as many people as possible,’ said Shilton. “So we are looking for high density locations or the most desired locations for people to land in. But at the end of the day, you need to look at it from an operational point of view, how safe and how clean it could be.

The firm is also looking to create bespoke packages along with hospitality partners to serve tourists. Currently, they offer luxury helicopter services with exclusive 22-minute and 30-minute aerial tour packages of Dubai.

Although they did not reveal a price point, the spokespersons said it would be “competitive” with other players in the market. Currently, a private charter helicopter from Dubai to Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi costs Dh7,000 for 5 passengers.

Air Chateau’s Dubai Helipark, located adjacent to the Al Maktoum airport in Dubai World Central, is the largest of its kind in the country and currently accommodates eight helicopters.


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