Avcom, Russia’s oldest dedicated business aviation company, has started establishing badly needed maintenance infrastructure in the Siberian cities of Irkutsk, Omsk and Khabarovsk. The group also has just secured approval from Kazhakstan officials to work on business aircraft registered in the country and now plans to open a technical base there as well.
The company decided to expand its services because “Some of our clients frequently fly to Siberia and the Far East, and they were asking us for services there,” Avcom chairman Eugeny Bakhtin told AIN. “We will continue to be opening new stations as the demand grows,” he added.
Bakhtin said that he has also explored a plan to open another maintenance shop in the Russian resort city of Sochi. However, he said that airport authorities there have blocked moves by outside service providers to go into business locally.
Until earlier this year, Avcom focused entirely on the Moscow area, running an FBO and maintenance center at Domodedovo Airport and satellite facilities at Sheremetyevo Airport. Bakhtin said that the business case for expanding farther east and south had been seriously bolstered by the Russian government’s decision to ease customs restrictions on imported aircraft, which has encouraged Russian owners to base their jets at home. He estimated that the resulting growth of the Russian aircraft registry is boosting demand for maintenance services in Russia by as much as 50 to 70 percent annually.
“I do not think these rates [of growth] will stay for long, but in the view of this substantial intake and more aircraft going in [to Russia], the market for technical services is growing faster than the number of qualified engineers and mechanics,” said Bakhtin. He estimated that the Russian market for business aircraft maintenance was worth between $70 million and $100 million in 2011, of which around two-thirds went to service providers outside Russia. “Our vision is that this money should stay in the country, since this sort of work is being done by highly qualified specialists.” He acknowledged that Avcom faces heavy competition from European facilities, but insisted that the Russian firm will win the business by providing higher quality service at more reasonable prices.
For now the Domodedovo facility continues to be Avcom’s main base and it currently has five aircraft undergoing medium and heavy checks there, with capacity for another three jets. Its new bases in Siberia are currently sufficient only for line maintenance, with Moscow-based staff being sent out to work there on a shift basis while local personnel are recruited and trained.