ONE SIZE SUITS ALL

Jordan 2019 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

The company's transformation has been about more than new facilities and investing in infrastructure, but about changing mindsets, driving change, and guiding coalitions.

Jeff Wilkinson
BIOGRAPHY
Jeff Wilkinson began his career as an apprentice airframe engineer with BAE systems. He obtained a higher national diploma in aeronautical engineering as well as successful completion of his apprenticeship in airframe engineering. He then entered the field of B747 modifications for some of the worlds’ biggest engineering companies. Following this, he relocated to Switzerland for Swiss International Airlines, where he became Head of Base and Line Maintenance. He is now CEO of Joramco, a Jordan-based leading commercial aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul organization offering a wide range of maintenance services for various aircraft with over 1,000 employees.

What are some recent achievements of Joramco?

When I joined Joramco in 2017, it was holding on to a great deal of untapped potential. As a maintenance provider of airframe services and component services within the industry, Joramco was well known, but it had potential to do so much more. My role as CEO was to come in and tap into that potential and show the industry exactly why Joramco was a significant player. Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) was typically more focused on the regional and charter business. We are transforming the business and taking it in a different strategic direction. With the support of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), we are creating a world-class MRO facility. Step one was transforming the business through a huge expenditure on infrastructure—the hangars, hangar floors, lighting, and capabilities of the facility. Previously, we could only maintain certain types of aircraft, and over the last 18 months or so, we have grown our capabilities to service a different client base. Now we are looking outward toward the industry to promote Joramco and its enhanced capacity. Moreover, the transformation is not only about new facilities and investing in infrastructure, but also about changing mindsets, driving change, guiding coalitions, and getting the staff behind us. This multi-faceted approach is seeing results, and we are expanding our customer portfolio. To date, we have had 12 national flight carriers in the facility, and the business model has shifted from being a regional player into a global player.

As you continue to position Joramco as a global leader in the industry, what is your strategy for building partnerships?

The client base when I arrived was predominantly from the Gulf, though this has since shifted. Jordan's geographical location cannot be underestimated. The location is superb—three to four hours to the Gulf and Europe, seven hours to India, 10 hours to South Africa. Truly, it is a place where we can do business on a global scale, which is demonstrated by the large number (12) of national flag carriers we maintain. The business has pivoted massively in the last year, from being mainly Gulf-focused to now including Europe and Asia. Europe is an especially interesting opportunity because rates are spiraling, and Europe's cost base needs to be controlled. We have Swiss, Lufthansa, Alitalia, and Brussels all in the facility today, not to mention Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian, and flydubai, among others. Our hangars are full. In fact, we are at the point where if we had more space, we could double the workload today. We are working with one of our key partners, Airport International Group (AIG), to take up more hangar space, even a paid hangar, because there are certain skills here that are exceptional. The Jordanian workforce is extremely hands-on and flexible. My entire 1,030-person workforce is Jordanian. We have an academy down the road, and we internally train 40 students a year, a capacity that could easily jump to 100. That is one of the niche areas not fully developed yet. In Jordan there is high unemployment, especially among the youth, who are all able to work with their hands; however, the missing element is who pays for the training. We are therefore exploring financing mechanisms and seek to work with financial institutions for a solution that fits all.