Given the presence of military and other segments, why is Port San Antonio focused on attracting more commercial MROs to the site?
It’s what we do well in San Antonio. We’ve been doing MRO since the first flight more than 100 years ago and the site used be one of the largest military MRO facilities around. In turn, this spun off a lot of work. There are so many companies in San Antonio and its surrounding areas engaged in MRO activities along with the international airport which also attracts a tremendous amount of big companies. Naturally, we want to grow where we have natural strength. Ultimately, I see Port San Antonio becoming a one stop shop – a place where operators can put their aircraft into service and we can handle it all – engines, upgrades, airframe and painting. We are also passionate about the integration of technology into aviation sector in areas such as additive manufacturing, augmented reality and cyber security.
How are you able to attract more MROs to Port San Antonio?
We see it as filling in capability gaps. The reality is a lot of larger companies throughout industry are looking to become more innovative and efficient. While some shops in the Latin America region have cost advantages over U.S. ones, we believe we can thrive on offering this efficiency while building and maintaining solid relationships.
Which commercial MROs are operating at Port San Antonio?
The number of companies related to commercial MRO is growing. The outfits on the property engine side are StandardAero and Lockheed Martin, while Chromalloy does components and accessories on site. There are also firms operating in other interesting areas, such as GoAeroMx carrying out satellite and communication wireless harnesses for Bombardier and Boeing airframes and GDC Technics doing completion work. It’s a really strong mix.
In 2015, the Port announced plans to focus its economic development activities to support the creation of 5,000 new jobs at its site by 2020. How is this progressing?
It’s tracking at about where we expected and we remain on target to create 5,000 new jobs at Port San Antonio by 2020. This commitment isn’t something we take lightly – it’s a very ambitious goal and a substantial growth from our current level of people amounting to around 12,000 staff. We have some of the biggest names in the aviation industry working at the site and we are doing what we can to make sure they are competitive.
How does Port San Antonio engage with local organizations to source skills for the site?
We work with a program called the Alamo Aerospace Academies. This was put together in early 2000s. It takes the Part 147 training in the first year of that program and puts it into the high school. Students can come in and take half of the FAA training and get an internship with one of the aerospace companies. It is common for most students to get employment with those firms after their senior year. Programs like this are very important as they create a pipeline of young talent and gives them opportunities to start their career. There’s a constant discussion about where the skilled workers of tomorrow will come from but fortunately we’ve never had a real problem with companies on our property attracting talent.