SKY HIGH

Kazakhstan 2015 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Andrey Padalko, Director of KAZAIRJET, on what it takes to maintain the best jets in the country, and meet the demands of exacting clients.

Andrey Padalko
BIOGRAPHY
Andrey Padalko has devoted his professional life to aviation. He studied at the Sasovo Flight School of Civil Aviation, and from 1987 till 1992, he studied at Lenin Order Academy of Civil Aviation. From 1987 till 1992 he worked as a co-pilot, and then as a captain of the L-410. He has worked in senior positions for Air Kazakhstan and Orient Eagle Airways, and for the state air company, “Berkut” while also flying as co-pilot of an An-12. From 2007 onwards, he has been CEO of Kaz Air Jet, JSC.

What are the highlights and milestones for Kaz Air Jet?

Kaz Air Jet was established in 2007, and we have been growing ever since. The airline started off with one business jet. Now, our fleet comprises nine jets of different varieties—Cessna Citation CJ3, Yak-40, Yak-42, and a few other jets. We are one of the top-five business aviation companies in Kazakhstan. In the next couple of years our fleet will double, or at the very least grow substantially. Another important factor is the people who own the aircraft. Initially, these were businessmen who were tired of hiring charter flights from random companies and who considered acquiring a jet for themselves. We provide them with a range of services from consultancy to maintenance and PSM services. Kaz Air Jet takes numerous factors into consideration when advising on the type of aircraft for purchase, and offers turn-key solutions. At the moment we own two planes. All other aircraft in our fleet belong to people who task us with their management.

What is special about your service, and how do you shape your competitive advantages in this environment?

The competition in business aviation in Kazakhstan is not as fierce as it is in Europe or the US. Our competitors are our industry partners as well. Our clients prefer having what I call a “single window" system. If you look for business aviation services, you contact me and share the details of your flight. If my own planes can't carry the number of passengers you require, I refer you to one of our partners, other air carriers, or air brokerage companies that meet your expectations. Our clients never hear us say “no." We always offer at least two or three solutions and emphasize that nothing is impossible. Aviation is a fascinating industry, and we have developed strong relationships with our partners.

How much are you investing in the maintenance of your fleet, and what is the importance of having a highly qualified team in this business?

We have been dedicated to keeping up with the highest safety standards since the company was founded. This was something that we specifically talked about with the shareholders. In 2008 we acquired two Cessna Citation CJ3 aircraft. Since then, both jets have been serviced at the same station in Vienna, which we chose because it was the best at the time. We do not compromise on safety. And after every 300 flight-hours, all of our planes go there for a check up. A while back, we decided to upgrade our fleet, sold our old aircraft, and acquired more recent models. Potential buyers were impressed by the great technical condition of the jets we were selling. We also took over the only existing maintenance and repair center in Kazakhstan, which is located in Ust-Kamenogorsk. We have a license to service Yak-40 and Yak-42 aircraft. Human resource management is in a way more challenging than technical maintenance. You can always buy a spare part, but it's a lot more difficult to find the right talent. We always hire the best talent. Kaz Air Jet currently employs 55 people in the head office and 80 more in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Our company resembles a family-run business, and many of the employees get offers to work for other companies, which, obviously, they can do, but they still choose to work with Kaz Air Jet.

What is the geographical area you cover with your flights?

Our fleet is not big enough to cover every possible destination. The most popular route is Almaty-Astana because business is located in Almaty, but all the government agencies are in Astana. Our clients often require short-term services. Although we can't keep the pilots in the plane like they do in the military, we do ensure that the pilots always turn up on time. We work mainly in Kazakhstan, and our aircraft perfectly match the flight conditions here. We also fly to the border regions of Russia and to Moscow.