Mubadala's Sanad recently combined its engine, finance and energy divisions into one. What was the thinking behind this move?
We have a strategy highly driven by a customer-first ethos, so our intention is to deliver the highest quality product at the fastest possible time to any corner across the world. In past, these three businesses worked very closely together, as a combined group, we are afforded greater rationalization. Not only will there be better cooperation, but through creating a combined entity, there is an opportunity for better efficiencies in terms of utilizing skill and helping all three businesses grow.
The Dubai Airshow was a busy week for Sanad's engine MRO business with a string of announcements made. Among these was the confirmation of Leap engine overhaul approval. How significant is this approval.
The Leap agreement is an important one building on an existing capability. We've worked with GE Aviation since 2013 as a service provider for the GEnx engine. This new agreement covers both the GEnx and the Leap. For the GEnx, we will overhaul more than 300 engines over a 15-year period starting from 2020. The Leap contract covers both the -1A and the -1B variant and is a completely new product platform being added to our portfolio. This will start in 2021 as a 10-year agreement, and will see more than 200 engines inducted during that timeframe. Not only is this the introduction of a new product line, but Sanad will be the first shop in the Middle East and North Africa region to have this capability in place by 2021.
Sanad has been an example of a company that has successfully worked with OEMs to further its MRO programs. Do you foresee Sanad adding more OEM partners in the next few years or are your ties with the likes of GE, Rolls-Royce and IAE sufficient?
We are always open to partnerships not just locally but also globally. We have always seen ourselves as a gateway to the Middle East, but more so now, we now we see ourselves as being the right partner for OEMs not just regionally but globally - as the Rolls and GE agreements testament to this. If an MRO has the right value proposition with the right technical competence and skilled workforce, then there is enough work out there for everyone.
What preparations has Sanad made in terms of capacity and workforce to ramp up for these new engine programs, also taking into account the Rolls-Royce agreement signed at Paris this year?
We've these new agreements, we've had to look at increasing our manpower and capacity in terms of production space. In terms of numbers, we are looking to add around 400 employees across the aerospace business - taking us to between 550 to 600 employees over the next two years to deliver this.
Like many aviation companies in the Middle East, Sanad has stated before that it is looking to further grow its Emirati workforce. How are these plans developing, and what methods has the business taken to help this?
Localizing the workforce is a core element of our overall strategy. Being part of Mubadala linked to the Abu Dhabi government, the state as a whole is looking to diversify away from oil and gas by creating new sectors and building a human element able to sustain all of this. We want to create jobs with UAE nationals by working with local universities and creating tailor made programs helping us to achieve this. There are associations with universities in the UAE however we don't have any flagship partnerships. Despite looking to grow this, Sanad has more than 30 different nationalities working for us and key to our growth has been this diversity across our workforce.