From sunrise to sunset: discreet VIP aviation during Ramadan
Today, approx. 1.8 billion people on Earth are a part of the global Muslim community which spends in excess of USD140 billion on travel and tourism each year, according to a DinarStandard report. Seeking to tap into such an extensive market, VIP aviation providers compete amongst themselves to offer top quality luxury services and products designed to leave even the most demanding customers satisfied. However, at least once per year even the most sophisticated airlines, including those in VIP aviation, have to dial down their offers in order to best accommodate their Muslim customers during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Muslim traditions have been gaining more and more importance in the global economy along the rapid development of Muslim-majority countries in South Asia, the Gulf and other regions. The growing middle and upper classes in those countries as well as within the Muslim community in Europe and North America have naturally contributed to the introduction of new services in line with the Islamic traditions. The trend has not bypassed business aviation, too. It is noteworthy, that VIP air travel services have been steadily growing in popularity across many Muslim countries, particularly in the Middle East.“
According to MEBAA, the Middle Eastern market alone is projected to almost triple its bizav fleet by the end of the decade. And while the overall market size should reach USD1.3 billion by 2020, experts note that the main driver behind the active development of the local business aviation industry is the corporate segment, as 70% of flights are already conducted for business purposes.
“Regardless of flying for business or private reasons, Muslim travelers take the period of Ramadan equally seriously. However, travelers are allowed to break their fast during the time of travel under the condition that they will compensate for it with additional fast afterwards. But while the decision is fully up to the passenger, business aviation operators must consider both options in advance in order to ensure maximum comfort for those travelling during Ramadan,“ shares Vitalij Kapitonov.
Each year Muslims around the world mark the holy month of Ramadan to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran. The commemoration comes in a form of spiritual and physical fasting and lasts for 29-30 days. With regard to physical restraints, Muslims, amongst other, are to refrain from consuming any food or liquid between dawn and sunset.
According to Vitalij Kapitonov, the availability of meals prepared in compliance with the Muslim Dietary Laws is particularly important during the holy month as many Muslims adhere to way stricter requirements than they do during the rest of the year. Amongst other, the offered on-board catering should under no circumstances contain pork and pork containing products (including gelatin) as well as alcohol. Meanwhile, passengers who prefer to continue their fast even at almost 13 000 meters height – those travelers should be offered an option to choose Suhoor (pre-dawn meal), Iftar (evening meal after sunset) or refrain from any meal at all, depending on the time of travel.
“Certainly, it’s not only about food or drinks. The crew must also consider each passenger’s religious obligations. The cabin crew must wear more conservative and modest outfit and have an accurate but simple make up. Moreover, since air travelling usually implies the change of one or several time zones, the pilot should remember about the fasting passenger’s bonds, and inform him or her when the actual time of the sunset comes. Following the announcement, the passenger will be able to break the fast and can then be served an evening meal,” shares Vitalij Kapitonov, the CEO of KlasJet. “Although by some people business aviation is considered to be all about excessive luxury and sometimes even immoderation, in reality it is all about meeting the personal needs and requirements of passengers. And whether those are spiritual, traditional or other obligations, VIP charter operators must always consider such factors and adapt their services accordingly.”