A MAJOR HUB

Abu Dhabi 2017 | AEROSPACE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Nadir Ahmed Mohammed Al Hammadi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA), on growing the capacity of the Emirate's aviation sector, developing local expertise, and markets with growth potential.

 Nadir Ahmed Mohammed Al Hammadi
BIOGRAPHY
Born in 1967, Nadir Ahmed Mohammed Al Hammadi graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in the US. His professional career began at Gamco in 1990, and moved to a joint venture between Gamco and Aerospatiale, GAMAERO, as its executive director. In 1996, he joined Presidential Flight and in 2007 was appointed as Deputy CEO. He moved to Abu Dhabi Aviation Board as its managing director, and two years later was appointed chairman. He also holds the chairman’s post at Deco Vision and Tamouh Investment, while also serving as a board member in other private companies.

As the largest helicopter operator in the GCC, which industries represent the bulk of your operations and how have they evolved over time?

We are the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East with a highly qualified team of pilots and maintenance engineers, all supporting a large number of companies in the UAE. The UAE remains our major hub. In the UAE, there are different sectors such as oil field support, Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), and transportation of nationals to the different islands around the mainland through fixed wing aircraft, that remain our largest chunk of services as a company. On the other side, we also have done a series of international contracts that have gone from leasing aircraft in India, to lending our services to the oil industry in Brazil during an oil boom in the past, to firefighting services in Spain. We also run HEMS in Saudi Arabia, where we were well positioned due to the promptness and efficacy of our services. We also do a lot of maintenance for other parts of the world. Our secret is that we are a diverse company in terms of services, so we are able to evolve, grow, and retract depending on the market and this opens the door for a better position among the local competition.

Aerospace and defense have been two of the leading sectors identified in Abu Dhabi's vision. How does ADA contribute to the development of local intellectual property?

Our 40 years of know-how as a company is intellectual property to me. We have developed expertise during that time and we are trying to build on this and leverage this in order to offer different solutions locally and globally. Our strategy goes around working on delivery. As we have mastered the operation and maintenance of aircraft over the past 40 years, we have moved on to training people and companies. This is where our expertise can be captured and delivered in the training program that we will offer at the training school that we will operate, as well as through our consultancy services. Our partnership with Agusta Westland Aviation Service (AWAS) is a piece of that, as it is the master manufacturer of the AW139. With it we have cultivated certain capabilities within the country so that the support for its product is being done in-house.

Which markets represent the greatest opportunity for expansion?

India presents a pool of opportunity for us due to its proximity and its rapid growth. We will focus on the Indian market as we move on. It is important to state that ADA has no limitations when it comes to its reach, and we will move wherever we perceive opportunities coming our way. Historically, we have been everywhere and there is no geographical limitation to where we can operate. We have good pilots, good aircraft, and a good system, making us the best choice in the market.

What do you envision for the aviation sector in 2017 and how will ADA fit inside these developments?

The aviation sector overall is very volatile. It is affected by economic situations within the area, and the best approach we can have toward the market is putting things in perspective. The strategy implemented by many of the players within the sector—and where many of them invested—protected them from being totally impacted by the complex economic situation. Every player has put in place a strategy to diversify their earnings. All of the sectors do not go bad at the same time, so this is a good survival strategy to cope with the ups and downs. The common factor is the oil price; there are pros and cons that accompany it. It makes your operations cheaper on the one hand, making it more attractive for people to travel. We need to work around this volatility and go through challenges with strength, and ADA has mastered this strategy well.