Azerbaijan Airlines wanted to rebrand its fleet of 18 aircraft and selected A J Walter Aviation, best known for component support, to managing the effort. AJW Group tapped Eirtech Aviation to paint the fleet.
Nine months earlier, in November 2012, A J Walter bought two new-500s from that it repainted and reconfigured for use by Azerbaijan Airlines.
Deepak Sharma, technical director at A J Walter, told Aviation Week that the company will continue to look beyond its traditional core capabilities.
“That was obviously one of the unique things to do, to buy these aircraft from the manufacturer and pass them onto an airline,” says Sharma.
A J Walter is close to completing the new look on Azerbaijan Airlines', is part way through work on its A320 and will be fully underway updating the airline's and 767 by October.
“We have done this [previously] on an ad hoc basis, not so frequently and not on such a large scale,” he adds. The program for Azerbaijan is a more formal, managed procedure.
A J Walter already is working on a “total solution” for thewith , according to Sharma. In a sign of their intent, in April the two companies joined forces to provide Azerbaijan Airlines with power-by-the-hour component support for its new fleet of 787s, which is scheduled to start flight operations in 2014. A J Walter and British Airways Engineering will provide extensive component supply, inventory management and repair services.
A J Walter also is looking beyond fleet rebranding to building a larger engine portfolio for leasing. In January, it bought three-80C2s and five -3C1 engines and one Pratt & Whitney PW4056-3 to add to its lease offerings of PW2040 and CFM56 series engines.
Its lease packages include serviceable ready-to-fit spare engines and complete digital records—with 24/7 service and temporary replacement engines.
“We are continuously identifying what the target is, what the opportunities are out there,” Sharma says. “At the moment we're heavily looking into the 737 and would like to get intowork. But that does not mean we are moving away from what we currently do.”
A J Walter manages a fleet of more than 400 aircraft under its power-by-the hour services, with customers as far afield as New Zealand and Hawaii.
But the company's vision “is not limited to Europe, America or Asia,” he adds. “We'll go wherever we need to be.”
While some MRO companies see a threat from OEMs trying to grab more of the aftermarket, A J Walter regards this as a “legacy” perception that fails to take full advantage of business opportunities.
While he concedes that all OEMs want to protect their intellectual property, “I haven't found the OEMs to be that difficult.” It's a matter of perception, he says.
The company does encounter some “minor issues” with OEMs, but good business sense and an eye for mutual benefit usually resolves the situation, adds Sharma.
“If you were trying to carry out a certain level of repair, some OEMs would restrict you and not grant you a license for that,” he says. “But you work with them, and there is benefit for them in selling the piece part. They realize it is a reciprocating business.”
Personal contact remains a priority for A J Walter, an approach that works “99% of the time,” he adds.
“We seem to have turned the tables with OEMs in the past few years. I find that if you meet people face-to-face you win a lot more business than by trying to win business by email.”