Metrojet, one of Hong Kong’s leading business jet operators and maintenance providers, has had a very busy couple of years expanding its operations in the Asia-Pacific region. In mid-2012 it opened the Metrojet Engineering Clark (MEC) business jet MRO in the Philippines and signed an agreement with India’s Taj Air. The pace didn’t slacken in 2013, with collaboration and joint ventures with China Eastern Airlines Executive Air (CEAEA) and Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation.
The MEC operation is jointly run by Metrojet and CAPP Industries Inc. of the Philippines, and was its first overseas venture. Based at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in the Clark Freeport Zone (40 miles north of Manila), it will expand both heavy and line maintenance capabilities from its burgeoning Hong Kong headquarters.
“Business at Clark is positive, and the growth is looking very promising,” says Metrojet CEO Björn Näf. The company formally received its Part 145 Approval from the Philippines CAAP in September 2013. “Over the last eight months we have completed around 2,350 hours of work across various aircraft types, including the Bombardier Challenger, Embraer Legacy and Gulfstream G200/G550,” he says. “We will be increasing the headcount in our Clark facility to meet the demand for maintenance work, and we will be introducing more specific capabilities to enhance our range of services.” The first Lineage 1000 base maintenance inspection has also been completed, he notes.
In October 2012 Metrojet and India’s Taj Air, part of Tata Group, set up Taj Air Metrojet Aviation, offering aircraft maintenance and management services to the growing Indian business aviation market. “Since then the company has received its DGCA 145 approval and we are now equipping our Indian business with the appropriate talents and resources to ensure the operation is properly set up,” said Näf. “It is essential to have a proper roadmap such that best practices from Metrojet’s MRO can be leveraged to our Indian operation.”
This joint venture strategically positions Metrojet and Taj Air to deliver world-class maintenance and aviation management services to the India market. Taj Air is widely recognized as a premier Indian business aviation brand with the world-renowned service and hospitality of the Taj Hotel group and the business expertise of the Tata Group that numbers more than 100 companies. Operations will start in Mumbai, where the current Taj Air facility is undergoing a substantial upgrade. A larger, more comprehensive facility is planned for later.
Last year Metrojet started to unfold its mainland China expansion by signing a joint venture with Zhuhai Hanxing General Aviation (ZHGA), part of the Hanxing Group whose business interests include tourism, energy, logistics, chemicals, real estate and general aviation. Metrojet Hanxing offers aircraft maintenance and aviation services, with an MRO at Zhuhai Airport, two hours away from Hong Kong by hydrofoil link. “Our China entry is a key step in our ongoing regional expansion program,” says Näf. “The incorporation of our MRO joint venture company is ongoing, but we remain confident that we can commence business in 2014. Our vision for business aviation in China has not changed. Starting with MRO was strategic, and we do not preclude extending into aircraft management in the near future.”
Metrojet has also signed a collaboration agreement to supply exclusive maintenance and support for China Eastern Airlines Executive Air (CEAEA). It will provide training, inspection and heavy maintenance support to CEAEA’s fleet, which includes Gulfstream, Embraer, Cessna, Hawker and Bombardier types amongst its current portfolio of 13 aircraft.
“The collaboration is up and running,” says Näf. “Metrojet has already performed a dozen inspections” which range across different types of aircraft within the CEAEA fleet, including ADS-B modifications. All work has been performed in Hong Kong, with on-site CEAEA personnel learning the aircraft and Metrojet’s processes. “We have purchased all related tooling and have increased our Legacy inspection capability to include L2, with further increases for the Legacy in 2014. We already have the major inspection capabilities for the other types of aircraft in their fleet,” notes Näf. Metrojet will also provide CEAEA engineers with technical training at its facilities in a knowledge-sharing role in supporting and growing the development of business aviation industry in China.