HE Nader Al-Hammadi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Aviation

01 Jun 03:28 AM

Sector : Transport & Infrastructure Country : UAE

Flying Higher and Further

The largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi Aviation currently operates 61 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft. The company’s profits are largely derived from supporting the oil industry in the Gulf region, ferrying thousands of people to and from oilfields every week. While it began in Abu Dhabi in 1976, it has since grown to offer services in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Spain and Australia, among many others countries. B’Here sat with Chairman HE Nader al-Hammadi to discuss the company’s continued growth and the changes in the aviation industry.
HE Nader al-Hammadi has a BSc from Embry Aeronautical University in Florida and a master’s degree in Engineering Business Management from Warwick University, UK. Prior to joining Abu Dhabi Aviation Al-Hammadi held a number of high-level positions with companies including GEMCO and Gulf Air. He was featured among Arabian Business’ Top 50 Business Executives in the UAE.

Can you give us your insight on the aviation industry in the Middle East in general and Abu Dhabi in particular, as well as the segment where you operate?

Today’s travel by air means to reach any part of the world at any given time. In the Middle East the expatriate community accounts for 70 percent of the population. The expatriate and the local communities travel to different parts of the globe with seasonal cycles throughout the year for business, leisure, medical reasons and emergencies. They are offered more choice of airlines that cater to their needs. These airlines are always wanting to carve a niche’ in the market for themselves and be market leaders by offering customers attractive and quality luxury service.

The aviation industry in the Middle East is very robust and competitive. Therefore, many private airlines have joined the national carriers offering customers more destinations and the route expansions have reached a pinnacle in the aviation industry flying to almost to every part of the globe. There has been an ever increasing growth of the aviation industry due to the influx of passengers throughout the year with an expected growth of 10 percent in 2013 in the GCC.

The main reason for this growth is the political stability in the region and security, caused by the decisions of the GCC governments to endeavor to give priority to the safety and security of its citizens.

With a fleet of 61 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft, and operations in five continents, Abu Dhabi Aviation is the largest operator in the Middle East. How do you explain your success with multiple operators in a highly competitive industry?

Abu Dhabi Aviation has achieved many accolades for performance, safety and best operation in the world without lost time incidents since the company was established as a national shareholding company in 1976. I am delighted to say that Abu Dhabi Aviation has outstanding performance in serving the nation with pride – especially to the oil field sector. Abu Dhabi Aviation owns 59 Helicopters and 3 Fixed Wing aircraft and the Fixed Wing Base Operations with MRO’s. The success story always goes with the Arab tradition of expansion, diversity and progress with success.

The key to success is transparency in our operations. Abu Dhabi Aviation has always had many competitors, as in an Arab tradition, yet there is always room for many to join and share the profits in the market.

Abu Dhabi Aviation has provided its customers par excellence service with safety and with environmental protection in accordance with the regulations stipulated by the UAE government. The high intensity of offshore oil support work has required an annual average of some 150,000 landings and take-offs. In an average month, 26,000 passengers and 125,000 kilograms of freight are transferred to and from offshore areas. Sustaining these rates has required a high degree of dedication, commitment and professionalism on the part of the pilots, engineers and supporting staff.

When establishing the joint venture with AugustWestland, you commoving mented: “We aim to be a global aviation company beyond its current international business scope”. What is the strategy to achieve this target?

Our joint venture with AugustWestland (AW) will begin by becoming a parts distribution center enabling us to support AW products throughout the region. We will be operating from a new facility within the Abu Dhabi Airport Company free zone, which will enable us to respond rapidly to operators’ needs. Abu Dhabi Aviation will be able to achieve its target by being SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound).

From an operational point of view, how do you manage your presence in five different continents, in countries as far flung as Brazil and Papua New Guinea?

Communication and building strong ties with experienced operators and agents within the theater of operations have been the keys to success in developing our business in these widely spaced regions. We can also provide experienced personnel to assist these operations where necessary. Distance does not mean you are handicapped. Based on trust, communication and good relationships, Abu Dhabi Aviation has helped to maintain its operation in all the five continents.

In some markets the trend is to move to larger helicopters to reach more distant deep oil drilling rigs. How are you adapting to this shift?

With the AW139 in our fleet, and depending on aircraft configuration, we are already able to fly a typical 12-passenger load out to between 150 and 289 miles. We would certainly look at larger aircraft if it becomes clear that either a larger payload to existing destinations or more range is required.

Can you share with us some figures; landings per year, landings to date, flight hours to date for both helicopters and aircraft, as well as yearly and expected growth?

Our fleet is approaching 1,000,000 flight hours, with landings around the same mark. We have averaged over 700 hours per aircraft with landings following closely behind.

What are the plans for cargo after the acquisition of Maximus Air? Can we expect further diversification?

In order to sustain long-term operation the trend is to meet customers’ requirements. Many new helicopters have been offered to Abu Dhabi Aviation with attractive performance, but ADA will maintain the policy where customer’s choice is right. If the market demands a particular product or service, Abu Dhabi Aviation group will endeavor to provide it.

How do you envision the sector and Abu Dhabi Aviation five years down the line?

Aviation is a fast-moving industry. There are several new models of aircraft coming online in the next five years that have been specifically designed to take advantage of the opportunities in new regions for oil exploration. We will be keeping a very close eye on these developing trends with a view to being able to exploit any new opportunity that may arise.


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