HAECO plans for the long term with a more global view

Payload Asia talks to Richard Kendall, HAECO's new commercial chief, as he shares the company's latest investments to expand its global services.

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Last month aircraft engineering and maintenance specialist HAECO announced it will establish a new ‘centralised’ commercial team, as it aims to expand capabilities, service and product offerings to a worldwide customer base.

Leading the team as chief commercial officer is Richard Kendall, who was previously the group director for airframe services. With over 36 years as part of the Swire group, Richard has moved up management roles, including heading the company’s HAESL engine MRO joint venture with Rolls-Royce and as chief executive of HAECO Americas.

Payload Asia catches up with HAECO’s new commercial chief as he shares his plans for the new division, the latest developments across its key markets, as well as the company’s long-term outlook for the MRO industry.

Can you give us an idea of what prompted HAECO to establish a new commercial team?
While HAECO Group companies have enjoyed strong customer connections over many years, we have come to realise that we can offer a greater level of service to our customers by improving the coordination of our offering across the spectrum of our activities – covering airframe, engine and component services, and cabin solutions. Our capabilities and capacity have expanded over the years, so we need to ensure that range of service and product offerings is effectively understood in the market, and that customers feel they have a channel for advocating their needs and expectations. The new team, which will be established by the middle of this year, is not intended to supplant the existing commercial relationships with our customers. Rather, it will supplement our service levels with greater reach locally in the regions where our customers are based worldwide.

What’s the market demand like for HAECO’s services? Are there any service or product offerings that you are looking to focus more on?
Like most companies in the aviation industry, our business has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 in the past year. And the recovery will be slower, or at least much later, than was initially expected. Nevertheless, we are confident in future demand for the whole range of services that we currently provide to the market. Looking into the future, recovery in the narrowbody market will be faster than that for widebodies so, if I were to comment on a particular market segment, it would be that we will pay particular focus to growth across the range of our capabilities for those aircraft types.

How did HAECO perform last year? Did you get a substantial boost from cargo in cabin solutions or freighter conversions?
As with all others in this market, our business volumes and financial performance in 2020 were heavily impacted by the reduction in travel induced by COVID-19. However, we are fortunate in having a well-diversified business base in terms of aircraft types and industry sectors. So the drop in demand from the passenger sector was partially mitigated by strong performance in cargo services, including temporary conversion of passenger aircraft to carry cargo. We have also seen growth in demand for freighter conversions but, as it is driven more by longer-term requirements, that activity pre-dated the impact of COVID.

What are the company’s short-term plans this year? Are there any plans to expand facilities or enter new markets particularly in Asia Pacific?
Most of our planning is with the long term in view, and those plans are unaffected by COVID. We are continuing with our substantial investment in developing an aircraft maintenance facility at Xiamen’s new airport which is expected to open in 2024. And we invested in acquiring an engine services facility in Texas last year, as part of our plan to grow our Global Engine Support services offering in future. While we are looking at a number of other opportunities for longer-term development, our perspective is global rather than limited to any particular region.

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