Friday, November 13, 2009

Singapore aerospace companies reach Americas through Panama

Published October 29, 2009

Copa's vote of confidence in ST Aerospace


WHEN ST Aerospace set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service shop for aircraft in Panama in 2006, one of its first customers was Copa Airlines.

Photo - Key location: ST Aerospace set up a facility in Panama as it reckons that it is the perfect place to do business because it is between North and South America

Recently, Copa not only renewed its maintenance service agreement with Panama Aerospace Engineering, ST Aerospace's Panama facility, but extended the agreement beyond its B737 planes to its E-190s.

Obviously, ST Aerospace has a satisfied customer in Copa. The Singapore-based company, which is recognised as the world's largest aircraft MRO service provider, takes it as 'a testament to our high quality and reliable service'.

Copa's gesture augurs well for ST Aerospace, which set up the Panama facility to provide a strong and competitive MRO base to serve the Americas - 'supporting the maintenance needs of customers operating in Central, North and South America', says ST Aerospace president Tay Kok Khiang.

The facility is intended to boost ST Aerospace's capabilities and complements its operations in the US, which remains a key market because it is home to almost half of the world's commercial airliners.

To have customers like Copa coming back - and for more - puts ST Aerospace in a strong position to win more customers in a fast-growing market for aviation services.

In fact, the company has seen its customer base in Panama expand to include clients such as AerCap, AWAS, GECAS, Sundowner Aviation and Transaero Airlines among others.

'This demonstrates our growing success and customers' growing confidence,' says Mr Tay.

ST Aerospace initially faced a shortage of trained aviation mechanics in Panama. But it anticipated this problem. So as it built up the Panama facility, it also started a significant training programme for the locals.

It also deployed some of its expertise from the US and Singapore to help get operations in Panama off the ground.

'Today, the training programme is going well as we have well-educated and enthusiastic employees,' Mr Tay says. 'With our established systems and processes in place within our global network, we were able to share our knowledge to facilitate the start-up process.'

The Panama facility is now performing well, he says. 'It has consistently re-delivered aircraft on time and with quality to customers, and has steadily built a strong track record for the maintenance of narrow-body aircraft, with more than 60 re-delivered to date.'

ST Aerospace reckons that Panama is the perfect place to do business because it is between North and South America.

'It is recognised as an important transport and shipping hub, and we feel it is an ideal location for MRO,' says Mr Tay. 'It is also close to the US, where we have a good client base, and has a good infrastructure.'

The aviation market in Latin America is projected to expand at a rate second only to Asia, mainly in narrow-body aircraft.

'Therefore we expect to continue growing our Latin American customer base,' Mr Tay says. 'As the aviation business recovers and carriers start to build up capacity, and due to competitive advantages that Latin American MROs have, Latin America will be an attractive outsourcing option for US carriers.'

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Special Focus
Published October 29, 2009

Aviation prospects in Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Argentina: IES

AVIATION opportunities in selected countries seen through the eyes of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Panama: The next 40 years will see the former Howard Military Base transformed into a mixed-use community called Panama Pacifico. The $705 million project includes an airport and logistics hub.

Signalling Panama's commitment to develop the aviation sector at Panama Pacifico, Law 41 offers tax benefits for providers of aviation industry services and aviation maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services. Aerospace Engineering, an offshoot of Singapore-based ST Aerospace, already has a footprint at Panama Pacifico.
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The Latin American route

The aviation opportunities Latin America has to offer extend beyond air cargo, reports CHUANG PECK MING

SINGAPORE Airlines Cargo launched flights to several Latin American cities in February this year because it wanted to fly flowers from Ecuador and Colombia to the rest of the world.

Oh, and it was also eyeing a cut of the business of shipping Brazil's electronics exports.

At the moment, the continuing global slump in electronics has kept exports down. But worldwide demand for freshly cut flowers is in bloom again.

'As the world economy picks up, so will air cargo movements in and out of Latin America to various parts of the world,' says Angeline Chan, head of the transport and logisticis division at International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Due to the vast size of countries in Latin America, air transport is a vital link, she says. 'There is a need for an efficient and well-connected civil aviation system to link the sparsely inhabited areas with major economic centres. And aviation infrastructure is also necessary infrastructure to support trade in and out of the region.'

Air-services agreements that allow civil aviation between countries, and the physical connectivity of airlines, are essential for cargo traffic, Ms Chan says. So it's good for Singapore air-cargo service providers that Singapore has just signed new air services agreements with several Latin American states.

By end-2008, Singapore had air service agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Panama in Latin America. Since 2009, Ms Chan says IE Singapore, which is pushing Singapore companies to go global, has been helping the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore build a network of air services agreements to link Singapore with major air cargo and passenger routes in Latin America.

For more information about IESingapore, please contact
Ms Jocelyn Cai
International Enterprise Singapore
+ 65 6433 4583 tel+ 65 6337 6898 fax

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