Thomas Wictor

No, there actually is a New Middle East

No, there actually is a New Middle East

I saw a tweet that expresses disappointment. Don’t be disappointed: The New Middle East is a reality. It may take years for it to be divulged, but if you know where to look, you can already see it.

Here’s the tweet.


From the Jerusalem Post.

Saudi Arabia cancels contract with company that flew airliner to Israel

The announcement was reported in the Twitter feed of a Saudi news agency.

Saudi Arabia has terminated its contract with the Portuguese airline Hi Fly after it flew an empty jumbo jet marked with the logo of the kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, to Ben-Gurion Airport for repairs.

That’s all it says. I found two more articles that pretty much disprove the notion that Hi Fly flew a Saudi-leased jumbo jet to Israel by mistake.

Here’s one.

Saudi airline denies landing plane in Israel for first time in nation’s history

Israeli maintenance company says the plane is owned by a European firm, which leases it to partly state-owned Saudi airline

Saudi Arabia has denied allegations that one of its flagship aircraft landed in Israel, after airport workers reported spotting a Saudi plane at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport late on Tuesday night…

“We are investigating whether one of the companies that holds a rental contract with Saudia has violated agreements. Contracts for leased planes prevent them from landing or passing through countries that do not have relations with the [Saudi] kingdom.”

A spokesperson for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which has its headquarters at the airport, later confirmed the plane’s arrival, telling Israeli daily Jerusalem Post that it had landed for “ongoing and routine maintenance”.

According to an IAI statement, the plane is owned by a European company, which leases the aircraft to Saudia.

Note that the IAI spokesperson never identifies the country that owns the aircraft. Remember that.

Here’s another story.

Saudi’s national flag carrier has canceled its contract with a Portuguese airline after the latter flew an empty plane carrying the former’s logo to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, local media has reported.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA), in a statement, said that the plane did not belong to its fleet, but rather to Portuguese company Hi Fly, which was contracted by the SAA to provide planes along with their crews for commercial operations if and when needed.

The statement came after Israeli media reported that a Saudi passenger plane landed at Ben Gurion airport Tuesday night for technical maintenance. A photo of the plane carrying the SAA logo at the Israeli airport had also created a buzz on Saudi social media.

The SAA said that the plane was out of its service when Hi Fly took it for repair in Brussels before the photo in question emerged.

It added that it had decided to cancel the contract with the company after the latter violated the terms of their contract, which states that the SAA must approve the airports where the planes carrying its logo land beforehand.

So the aircraft went to Brussels before Israel. Remember that too.

First, you need definitions.

A “wet lease” is when an airline—the lessor—leases an aircraft and its crew to another airline—the lessee. The lessor takes care of maintenance and insurance costs, while the lessee pays for fuel and airport taxes. Hi Fly is a wet-lease specialist. The two crew members on Airbus A330-322 CS-TMT that landed at Ben Gurion Airport would therefore have been Portuguese, if a Portuguese company in fact owned the aircraft.

Here’s the definition of a “dry lease.”

A dry lease is a leasing arrangement whereby an aircraft financing entity (lessor), such as GECAS or AerCap, provides an aircraft without insurance, crew, ground staff, supporting equipment, maintenance, etc.

See that company name, AerCap? It’s the final thing for you to remember.

Now, the Portuguese company Hi Fly has its own maintenance subsidiary, called Mesa.

Guess where Mesa has a big facility?

Mesa main facilities are located at Lisbon International Airport. The Company has several Maintenance Stations around the world, all aimed to temporarily support the Customer’s need for Line Maintenance Services at a specific place. Some Mesa recent outstations: Brussels, Brisbane, Sidney, Melbourne, Argel, Palembang, Clark, Luanda and Muscat.

Brussels! CS-TMT underwent repairs in Brussels before it landed at Ben Gurion. From November of 2009 to April of 2014, CS-TMT was leased by the Belgian Air Force as a troop transport.

© Jean-Marie Hanon

In May of 2014, CS-TMT was leased by the Saudi budget airline Flynas. Here it is on May 3, 2014, at Brussels Airport.

© Kevin Cleynhens

Flynas returned CS-TMT to its owners in October of 2014, and allegedly in December, Saudia Airlines leased it. Here’s CS-TMT in Saudia livery at Brussels Airport, December 10, 2014.

© Kevin Cleynhens

In the background are more Airbus A330s with no livery. It appears that Hi Fly can even paint aircraft at Brussels Airport. Why, then, would CS-TMT land at Ben Gurion Airport? Let’s go back to the original story.

The plane in question, an Airbus A330-300 devoid of passengers, arrived from Brussels to Tel Aviv for routine maintenance work with the Bedek Aviation Company, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), officials said. A European client that works with Bedek for plane maintenance happens to lease its jets to various corporations, including Saudia, they explained.

Here’s one service that Bedek offers.

Military Programs including Conversion & Upgrade of Special Missions Aircraft

See how the Israelis never mentioned Portugal? That’s because Hi Fly doesn’t own CS-TMT. The real owner is AerCap, as we can see in a cached version of a page.


The abbreviation “lsf” means “leased from.” So in October of 2014, Saudia Airlines leased CS-TMT from AerCap. Hi Fly lists CS-TMT as part of its fleet.


But the real owner is AerCap, a Dutch company. You can see here that Hi Fly leased CS-TMT from AerCap before the aircraft was leased to Saudia Airlines.


That chart shows that Hi Fly has never owned CS-TMT. The owner was once IFLC, which AerCap bought on May 14, 2014.

When the Saudis say that they’ve canceled the contract with Hi Fly, that’s tongue-in-cheek kabuki. Saudia Airlines leased CS-TMT directly from AerCap in October of 2014. It’s more circumstantial evidence that Hi Fly didn’t fly to Israel without Saudi blessings. Since Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize the existence of Israel, that could’ve started a war. I’m certain that the Portuguese know this.

Imagine the air-traffic controllers at Ben Gurion Airport, suddenly getting a radio message from a Saudi airliner that it was on its way in and was going to land. Does the term “9/11” mean anything to you? It absolutely would’ve meant something to the Israelis. We’re told that airport workers were shocked. I’m sure they were, but unless CS-TMT had clearance to land, it would’ve been shot down.

AerCap specializes in dry leases, meaning they don’t provide a flight crew. My guess is that the two pilots who landed CS-TMT at Ben Gurion were Saudis. Royal Saudi Air Force personnel began training on the tanker version of the Airbus A330 in 2011.


Hi Fly is cheerfully playing the fall guy here. They had to have been paid handsomely. Why is everyone so anxious to keep AerCap—the real owners of CS-TMT—out of the story?

This is your likely answer. A non-executive director of AerCap is Homaid Abdullah Al-Shemmari. He’s also on the board of Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Center, LLC (AMMROC), of the United Arab Emirates.

Last year the American defense contractor AAR began work on a very special project.

In the UAE, AAR will support the design, outfitting and integration of areas of the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Center (AMMROC), a new state-of-the-art facility south of Abu Dhabi in Al Ain, UAE.

“This is our biggest deal in the region and we are looking forward to starting it,” [Chairman and CEO David] Storch said.

The new facility will be one of the largest dedicated military MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] centers in the world, and will be an anchor tenant at Nibras al-Ain Aerospace Park, a free-zone project jointly developed by Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Airports Co. to support the establishment of a sustainable aerospace hub in Abu Dhabi.

AMMROC is a joint venture among Mubadala Development Co., Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin and serves as the MRO contractor for the UAE military.

Here’s one service that AMMROC offers.


AMMROC is the Arab version of Bedek Aviation Group, the organization that’s doing “routine maintenance” on CS-TMT at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Israelis are showing their new allies some tricks.

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