Using Geography To Maximize Seasonal Shifts

Canadian-based MRO taps into South American market to pick up the slack during its slow season.

Until about eight years ago, Rocky Mountain Aircraft experienced significant seasonal variations in demand for its MRO services. Based at Calgary Alberta’s Springbank Airport, the company’s specialty is the smaller regional turboprop, specifically the Beech 1900D, Bombardier Twin Otter and the King Air family. But as Tim Shaw, the company’s avionics manager notes, now its hangars hum along with hardly any seasonal changes in volume.

“Until about 2007, our primary customers were Canadian third-level feeder airlines that did a considerable amount of flying during the summer months. They scheduled most of their heavy maintenance and modification work in the winter, when demand for their services was not as great.”

Shaw explains that this group represented about 70% of their business, but thanks to a growing amount of international business, the one-time bread-and-butter trade now accounts for about 30%. Much of that cross-border business derives from foreign governments, although Shaw reports that about 60% of total business is still generated by commercial carriers. 

“The work is a mix of maintenance and modifications, which tend to come in year-round. One of our biggest customers is a Latin American government agency, which tends not to fly its aircraft at a time when our hangar has a little more capacity,” he says.

Shaw advises that through networking, it is not hard to identify carriers that operate the types of aircraft in which his MRO specializes. “In most cases, we find the markets in those countries that do not have local MRO support for maintenance and modifications on which we focus.”

Also, says Shaw, having access to proprietary data on supplemental type certificates for specific upgrades is advantageous. “To become less dependent on seasonality, diversify your customer base, build unique capabilities, identify, then access the market.  Once you have identified a market, a unique capability is the bait that brings in customers.” 

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