Honeywell interview

In My Opinion: Stephen Alcock, director of airline sales EMEAI at Honeywell

Stephen Alcock, ‎Honeywell’s director of airline sales for the EMEAI region talks about the growing Middle Eastern commercial aviation market and its changing demands for Honeywell products.

What have been some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the Middle East in the past year?

We’re definitely seeing both a continuation and consolidation of the long laid plans of the region’s carriers. They are continuing to expand and execute on the aircraft orders that they have made quite some time ago, and that steady trajectory for growth is being realised. Airlines like Emirates are continuing to receive 777s at the rate they had been before, with the other carriers also taking on new aircraft and platforms. We’re also seeing the rise of the Middle Eastern low-cost carrier, exemplified by the growth of flydubai. Looking at the region as a whole, the growth rate we’re seeing in the Middle East is significantly higher than in other areas of the world.

How is this regional growth manifesting itself in terms of customer demand for Honeywell products? 

This has varied depending on the product. The influx of new aircraft being ordered and delivered to Middle Eastern carriers has certainly played a part. For example, our auxiliary power units (APU) comes with the 777, so the more of these aircraft going into the Middle East, the more APUs we’re seeing being operated. There is also interest in some of what we call discretionary products, such as the SatCom equipment used as part of the Ka-band in-flight connectivity solution. Given Middle Eastern airlines have a big emphasis on passenger comfort and capability; they tend to be big adopters of technology.  We’re seeing a lot of interest around the Ka-band solution, and already some of the airlines in the region have already opted for this.

What are some of the Middle East’s biggest challenges as a region?

The airlines are becoming bigger by the year and this is changing the way they are doing business. Before, they were quite transactional as they were developing. As they grow further, airlines are looking to not just get bigger but also find smarter solutions. They realise that as they get bigger, you can’t analyse everything perhaps in the way that they did during a learning phase. Some of these airlines are looking to simplify processes and the way they do business. It’s important for Honeywell to stay in line with this and tailor the right solutions accordingly.

What are some of its biggest opportunities?

The future is very bright for us. We have a very broad in-store base, particularly on the kind of aircraft going into the Middle East being ordered by airlines. We continue to offer exciting solutions in areas such as connectivity, and bringing out other products such like strategic weather. With a large part of the Middle East’s growth around long-haul aircraft where getting real-time weather is extremely important, we see more opportunities here. Honeywell will be launching a weather service shortly, so this is a big area of interest for us.

How does Honeywell build and maintain relationships with the region’s airlines?

It’s important to have a local team. Honeywell has been physically on the ground in the Middle East for a long-time. We have quite a large presence in Dubai not just in Honeywell Aerospace but across other businesses, giving us an overarching leadership presence in the region, particularly in the Gulf. We have business managers close to the customers and we’ve just recently strengthened our numbers in Abu Dhabi to meet the growth there. Commercial aviation in the Middle East is very much centred on a relationship-based culture, so it’s important that Honeywell is well equipped with this in mind.

How do attitudes towards used parts in the Middle East compare to other regions?

Traditionally, Middle Eastern carriers have been more focused on new parts rather than pre-owned ones, especially when their fleets were new and growing. And there are certainly good reasons for that. But there’s also been a notable shift in attitudes. We’re seeing more openness towards using pre-owned material. Through our parts division, Honeywell Aerospace Trading (HAT), we’ve had a presence in Dubai for a number of years and we see a very bright future for pre-owned material.

Where is demand centred on for used parts?

At the moment it tends to be engines and major systems like APUs. There’s a willingness to accept pre-used material from people like ourselves because we have the OEM credentials and the equipment has the OEM stamp on it, making it much easier to bring it into a maintenance programme with us because we have the history and have worked on it. We’re not really seeing a huge amount of activity around components, but more the major systems. It’s more aligned to using people like HAT – an OEM provided pre-owned source rather than a widespread use of broker market.

How does Honeywell intend to expand its business in the Middle East going forward?

It’s inevitable that we’ll continue to further grow our presence as a business in the region and Honeywell will continue to have a broad portfolio of technologies. We’re involved in airport systems and solutions, and some of that touches aircraft activity, for example our Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) which has had interest from the Middle East. There’s also going to be a lot of activity around connectivity and asset tracking. There’s an increasing amount of complexity for carriers; the bigger they get the more people they have to move around. But technology is helping them, and there are all sorts of exciting things that can be done once an aircraft becomes fully connected. So this opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

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