22 Sep 2021
Keith Mwanalushi spoke to AJW about the challenges in the flight hour programme sector caused by the COVID downturn but also highlights the new opportunities that are arising from the pandemic.
AviTrader MRO spoke with our PBH Customer Service Manager, David Shorter and our Commercial Manager, Chas Richardson, for their insight on the impact of COVID on operators’ views of fight hour programmes.
Aside from the obvious challenge faced by airlines who have been unable to survive in the last 18 months, a typical type of flight hour solution relies upon a commitment to operate a baseline number of flight hours during a given period. “Airlines simply haven’t been able to commit to the pre-COVID minimum hour obligations, nor have they been able to plan their flight schedules with any degree of certainty, so the flight hour programme services sector has been significantly affected,” notes David Shorter.
David said the challenges created the need for flexibility and pragmatism as many operators sought suspensions, amendments and even terminations of support contracts. “AJW seized the opportunity and proactively offered flexible and fair solutions by offering short-term contract suspensions, ‘pay-as-you-go’ stop-gap solutions and opportunities to evolve the commercial framework of the service provision as flying resumed.”
Chas Richardson has also noticed a significant shift in the service provider marketplace. He says that many of the primary flight hour providers of the last two decades face significant pressure to maintain solvency whilst also continuing to support valued airline customers who are similarly distressed and that the pandemic has created a supply chain “pinch point”.
AJW has successfully supported many new start-ups over the past year and understand that having a flexible flight hour provider is critical to the success of the airline. David points out that there are the obvious cash benefits, such as the customer not having to invest millions of dollars on inventory and overheads, but ultimately a flight hour support contract allows the operator to run a lean supply chain, where everything can be outsourced, including logistics, and provides complete transparency from a budgeting perspective as there are no hidden costs. Operationally, David explains that a support contract with AJW can be negotiated to include guaranteed delivery and service levels as well as the provision of onsite inventory for no-go and critical items and for start-ups with brand new aircraft and AJW takes care of the warranty management with the OEMs.
Also, worth noting, Chas reminds that conventional flight hour support agreements cover only the component maintenance portion of the aftermarket and maintenance environment – “AJW have a broad portfolio of products, which cover elements on top of the standard flight hour service and are making a concerted effort to integrate and develop them further to meet our customers’ needs.”
Chas also suggests, the flight hour model necessitated the development of online web portals to track order status as airlines began to manage service level agreements with suppliers more closely. “In recent years this has evolved as the aviation industry has started to catch-up with general retail. The days of faxing and emailing purchase orders or accessing clunky portals is clearly coming to an end with a truly digital marketplace obviously the next major step.”
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