The lives of the world’s ultra-elite would not be complete without access to private jet transportation, a special service provided by DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF).

The company – a joint venture between German business jet operator DC Aviation GmbH and United Arab Emirates’ real estate, financial services, retail and automotive conglomerate Al-Futtaim – has branches in Moscow, Malta, Dubai and Zurich.

The man behind the joint venture is DCAF Managing Director Holger Ostheimer, who found himself drawn to the skies despite studying to become a teacher.

“When I was at school, I was living very close to Frankfurt International Airport,” he explains.

“Having become accustomed to the sight of aeroplanes and the smell of kerosene, I inevitably ended up in the aviation industry.”

Holger has worked in just about every department including aircraft ground handling, passenger services, aircraft cargo, airline station management and aircraft charter brokerage.

He has also travelled as an onboard operations representative in crisis regions and trained as a professional pilot.

While serving as an aviation management consultant on several start-up projects, Holger was assigned the DCAF joint venture.

Holger Ostheimer, GM of DC Aviation Al-Futtaim
Holger Ostheimer, GM of DC Aviation Al-Futtaim

Accidental partnership and joint ventures

“The two partners found each other accidentally when DaimlerChrysler Aviation at the time sold one of its aircraft to the Al-Futtaim Group,” Holger explains.

“Through this sale, we won the Al-Futtaim Group as an aircraft management client and we’ve had a supplier-client relationship since 2007.”

“That relationship built up to such a degree that, not long after, both parties started talking about a potential project in Dubai.”

Towards the end of 2010, Holger began bringing this joint venture idea to life. In 2012, he was appointed its General Manager, and in 2017, its Managing Director.

DCAF combines the services of a private jet operator with the standard procedures of international airlines.

It is the largest private jet company in Germany and the only one with a fully integrated hangar and VIP lounge in the Dubai World Central airport.

Understanding aviation food chain

“We provide discreet aviation services to clients with high expectations in a fast-changing environment,” says Holger.

“Besides the technical delivery of services, operations and maintenance requirements, it is of extreme importance that we keep the client and their requirements in focus.

“We provide aeroplane transportation to high and ultra-high net worth individuals to make their lives easier. That is the ultimate goal.”

“You want them to return, saying, ‘I liked that’. The best thing is when customers talk to their peers and say DCAF is trustworthy and they had an amazing experience in Dubai. That’s what we want.”

The best thing is when [!customers!] sit with their billionaire peers in a pool in Saint-Tropez and say, ‘I've recently been to Dubai and these people are really cool’. That’s what we want.

Part of keeping up with client requirements means holding the most popular aircraft. “You move from the Embraer to the Dassault, the Bombardier or the Gulfstream aircraft,” Holger explains.

“A little higher up the food chain, you’ve got the Airbus corporate jets and Boeing business jets. The market in Dubai prefers larger aircraft.”

“This has to do with the demographics of the local population where you have an above-average number of high and ultra-high net worth individuals from inside the region – Pakistan, India – and the Western world.”

IATA’s Operational Safety Audit – IOSA

Since its inception, DCAF has made safety its utmost priority. There is nothing else perceived to be more important.

This ideology is backed by the stringent regulations in the aviation industry and that DC Aviation, one half of DCAF’s joint venture partner, successfully completed IATA’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which is widely considered the quality standard for commercial airlines.

“For years, many scheduled and charter airlines have considered this audit to be a general standard requirement, though this is not the case for business jet operators.”

“The successful completion of this certification clearly indicates the mission of DCAF’s operations in Dubai – to provide the highest levels of services,” says Holger.

Holger Ostheimer, GM of DC Aviation Al-Futtaim
Holger Ostheimer, GM of DC Aviation Al-Futtaim

Demand to grow

Looking ahead, Holger is confident there is room for growth. “Dubai will continue to be an international marketplace so people will continue to travel here in their private and business jets,” Holger says.

“With it, comes the demand to grow the services around aircraft for VIP passengers.”

“We have just added hangar number two. We are fairly confident in how our business is going to develop and we are also looking to increase our footprint in the region.”