Business Aviation Interviews

An Interview with Metrojet

An Interview with Metrojet
Dave Yip
Dave Yip
Managing Director, MRO Metrojet

Congratulations for being promoted to MD of the MRO business. Can your promotion be viewed as Metrojet placing more emphasis on the MRO side of the business going forward?

During COVID-19, flying activity has definitely decreased, and the aircraft parking and maintenance business has understandably gained more attention and momentum. Our focus remains on both the AMC (Aircraft Management & Charter) and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) business pillars, as they remain intrinsically interdependent.

The consolidation of our current HK and Clark operations and planned expansion under a single MRO leadership allows us to better utilise and optimise all of our maintenance resources within the Company and to provide an improved level of performance and flexibility to the benefit of our customers and the OEM’s. Clark is in a good strategic location and we see great potential there. We have a long-term vision reinforced by our 25 years plus 25 years option period lease. Our new state-of-the-art hangar and extended ramp space keeps us well-positioned for future growth opportunities. I very much look forward to working closely with Sarith Vaikuntan, our Clark facility General Manager to collectively offer an extended level of service to the highest standards in the industry

Metrojet is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. How long have you been with the company?

I was with Metrojet from 2006 through to 2011 working as an Engineering Support Manager. From 2011 to 2019, I worked at Hongkong Jet and my last position with them was the Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all aircraft management and maintenance functions. I re-joined Metrojet in 2019, responsible for Aircraft Management business development. I moved back to the MRO in 2020.

In total, I have been with Metrojet for more than 8 years. I am fortunate to have worked on both the AMC and MRO side of our business giving me a full picture view with the ability to make decisions that transcends both lines of our service offerings.

How was 2021 for Metrojet?

Well, like the rest of our competition and in particular in the HK/ PRC region, it was not an easy year for Metrojet. The travel restrictions/quarantine/flight bans and constant changing of the rules during the past COVID-19 years have been challenging to say the least with the flight operations side, in particular, being hit hard.

We have seen a significant reduction of aircraft based in HK/ PRC as a direct result of the pandemic with the majority of these aircraft being sold or repositioned elsewhere and where the restrictions are somewhat more relaxed. We have been fortunate, however, in that many of our management clients have elected to repair their jets at our MRO facilities, which I believe is a solid testament to our capabilities and the Metrojet brand as a whole.

Our maintenance and aircraft cleaning business is improving as we are making inroads and gaining other business from third-party clients. We are taking this time to focus on improving our processes and procedures and preparing for when the next growth spurt will come – and it will come, and we will be ready.

2021 was a busy year for MRO businesses around the world, but did you see much work that was originally scheduled for 2022 get moved forward into 2021?

We worked very hard with our managed fleet clients, crews and CAMO team to review the current and future maintenance requirements for each aircraft and to move work forward that made sense and in accordance with the maintenance manual. If we could split up maintenance checks around our clients’ flight schedule and benefit from an extended downtime to ensure that the aircraft was ready on short notice, we did just that.

The need for calendar and yearly heavy checks remains and we benefitted by performing a fair number of these inspections in Hong Kong where in the past the aircraft may have gone to either the USA or Europe. As many parts of the world open up and governments relax the COVID-19 restrictions we will see more flying and I am optimistic that the maintenance needs will gradually resume in the latter half of the year.

Aside from fewer flights, did COVID-19 have much of an impact on the business?

COVID-19 has caused us to rethink many of the things that we may have taken for granted previously and has further enhanced our concerns regarding safety at work and how we deal with and resolve these issues. We implemented a work-from-home policy and it accelerated the use of technology both internally and externally. We are very used to utilising different online meeting platforms now. COVID-19 also “encourages” us to explore additional solutions to better protect our employees, clients and their valuable assets. Throughout these past two years, I am very proud to say that we were able to keep all of our staff employed and we worked hard to ensure their safety at work and extended assistance to them and their families at home.

Numerous aircraft have remained on the ground for extended periods of time. We now provide tailor-made cleaning and sanitizing packages to protect the aircraft from the corrosive environment that exists in our region.

Our new hangar in Clark provides a very affordable parking option to Hong Kong – less than ninety minutes flight time. The facility offers an excellent protected environment for either short or extended stay parking with full-service offerings available.

Metrojet opened a facility in Clark, the Philippines last year, is there still room to grow the MRO business in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong remains a major economic hub and gateway into and out of China. A number of management clientele remain based in HK and aircraft continue to arrive bringing in people and business. These aircraft sometimes break and we are here to help them get on their way.

As mentioned previously, many of our management clients continue to choose to repair their jets at our MRO and our third party business is expanding on both the MRO and cleaning sides of the business. The third runway in the HKIA will soon be ready, and we anticipate that this will result in a boost in flight and maintenance activities. The HK Airport business aviation community is small and it is important that we all help each other. I am very happy to say that we work well with our competition and though my preference is obviously to ensure my operation is kept busy and ideally full, my team and I will always remain available to help the other maintenance operators as we all will benefit long term.

How will the two facilities work – will potential clients need to use a different facility based in the work that they need done?

At least in the short term not necessarily, as both of our facilities have similar maintenance capabilities. We are looking at expanding our Clark capabilities as the skies open up further and as the number of aircraft in the region grows.

The above being said, we will take into consideration our client’s preferences and requirements to provide them with the best options to consider. Our operation in Clark, the Philippines, provides a one-stop-shop solution for private jet owners and operators which can be especially attractive for those aircraft that are not doing a significant amount of flying and would benefit from a cost-effective and convenient alternative to the significantly more expensive parking arrangements in the major cities in Asia region.

I do not see our facilities as being competitive with each other but rather complimentary. We give our clients a choice and provide them with options – all with their best interests in mind.

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