Metrojet – Taking Flight
As part of the Kadoorie family, Metrojet is providing elite levels of service to the ultra-high net worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region.
Metrojet is part of the prestigious Kadoorie family’s aviation portfolio and was founded 23 years ago in 1997, as a Hong Kong-based business aviation company.
“Our expertise is in aircraft management, charter and maintenance services with our head office based in Hong Kong,” explains Gary Dolski, Metrojet’s CEO. “We provide business aircraft maintenance in Hong Kong where we have a significant presence for the past 20 years. We are expanding our current Philippine presence with the grand opening of our new hangar facility in Q2 of this year at the Clark International Airport.”
With 23 years of experience in the region, Metrojet is the longest-serving Asia-based aircraft management company. As part of the Kadoorie family, their focus remains on safety and quality, words that are at the forefront of the business.
A Passion Project
“I am passionate about what I do, and I absolutely still enjoy waking up in the morning and coming to work,” Dolski says. “We have a strong group of professional women and men that feel the same way and are all dedicated to helping preserve the Kadoorie name and their brand.”
The company’s long and proud history inspires confidence in the company’s customers.
“Our longevity here means we’re stable. We’re known entities and in light of the volatility in the region today, that’s a hallmark point,” says Dolski. “We’re here for the long haul and as a customer in our industry, they want to know that we are here for them today and we will be here for them tomorrow.”
The latest demonstration of the standards and work ethic Metrojet is known for can be seen in the company’s construction of a new hangar at Clark International Airport.
“We’re still on schedule to be operational in 2Q 2020,” Dolski says. “It’s an extremely large expansion for us. We’ve been at the Clark International Airport for eight years and our new facility expansion is 7,100+ square metres. We can accommodate up to ten long-range business aircraft in our hangar and have an 11,000+ square metre apron out front where we can park additional aircraft.”
The new hangar is built to the highest industry standards of fire protection, as well as being a typhoon and earthquake rated facility.
“We have dedicated spaces for training, offices, back shops, with customer and pilot lounges,” Dolski says. “There is even expansion room for a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) What’s good for us is that Clark is in a great development area. The nearest major maintenance hub is a three-hour flight away in Singapore and a one-hour twenty-minute flight from Hong Kong. We provide a solid cost-effective alternative. Clark is in a great location with strong support at all government levels. The Philippine government is moving business aviation away from Manilla, and Clark is an ideal new home. One of the biggest issues that aircraft face in the Asia Pacific region is the corrosive environment in which we operate. With our facility, we offer corrosion protection programmes and we’re in a geographically protected area inland away from the ocean which is a big plus to our customers. They can park aircraft in a state-of-the-art facility and receive maintenance in a highly trained English-speaking environment.”
Of course, there are challenges involved in a project of this scale, particularly in such a competitive labour market.
“Clark is designated as a freeport zone and the government is focusing on infrastructure development both in and around the airport,” states Dolski. “Because there’s so much ongoing expansion not only at the airport but also the surrounding area, access to qualified construction labour has been difficult. We’re over that hump now, but that was a huge challenge.”
Aside from the continuous and universal problem of sourcing new talent, Metrojet is also having to prepare for the move from their current facility. “The ability to maintain an ongoing operation and transition from our current hangar to the other side of the airport to our new facility will be a challenge,” Dolski explains.
The Spirit of Collaboration
It’s a project that, ultimately has been fuelled by relationships and partnerships by all involved.
“The government has been very supportive – at all levels,” Dolski says. “There has been a transition from Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) to Luzon International Premiere Airport Development (LIPAD) regarding the responsibility for the airport. Whenever you do a switch of this magnitude from one organisation to another, there must be an element of goodwill and trust in order to maintain a positive working relationship and ensure that balls are not dropped. One thing that has been very good is the support from the government and relevant agencies.”
Dolski argues that these relationships don’t just show how Metrojet has managed to succeed, they indicate a path for the entire industry going forward.
“You find you can’t do things alone so we’re fortunate in having some wonderful partners that I have been fortunate to have worked with previously, alongside us in this project. We have a very good engineering and construction company – Aircraft Support Industries (ASI) that specializes in the design and construction of aviation facilities as well as MERX Construction Project Management providing us with their oversight expertise” Dolski says. “It is important to be able to reach out to the government and even to your competition and say, ‘How can we make each other’s life better?’ My approach has always been to work with people. Some companies may be competitors, but we can still find ways to work together. For instance, we can share equipment or tools instead of buying duplicate sets. If you walk into a relationship that way, you’ll be surprised how many doors it opens.”
Once this project is completed, Metrojet still has a number of future plans.
“We are based in the Asia region and will maintain that focus. When I look at our strategic plan, we have two strong legs – maintenance and management” Dolski explains. “Still, three legs provide a firmer platform so we’re looking at other synergistic lines of business that we can tie into. We are also looking at the potential to expand into other regional line maintenance locations that could then provide additional support to our customers and drive more business into our larger hubs.”
Metrojet’s goal is to grow deliberately and profitably – not in an unpredictable manner or for the sake of growth or by simply grabbing opportunities without paying attention to the consequences or the details.
“It will be a definite controlled growth pattern. I’m not a fan of the shotgun approach where you shoot first and then aim. We want to consolidate our business and build a firm foundation,” says Dolski. “A big part of that is making sure we have the right people, succession planning and a high potential development program. We are becoming more locally-focused both in Hong Kong and Clark. I feel very strongly that the next levels of our leadership should be homegrown wherever possible.