As with Doctor Who’s Tardis, there is a lot of technological prowess packed into Aero Technics’ modest adjoining standard units at Dubai International Airport’s free zone.
Since being taken over by the UK’s Trenchard Group in 2016, the business has transitioned from a dry cleaner of seat covers – reliant on Emirates for 90% of its turnover – to an all-round interiors repair shop, with European and UAE regulatory approvals.
Its new-found competencies include oxygen bottles, Ipeco galley chillers, pilot seats, and escape slides for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, as well as cabin soft furnishings and seatbelts.
Half a dozen rooms, little bigger than a home garage, serve as shops for each product area.
“We’ve gone from relatively low-tech to much higher tech,” says general manager Lassaad Yousfi. “We have a lot of specialisms packed into a small space.”
Aero Technics has managed the diversification largely by “taking knowledge” from one of its three UK sister companies, Reheat. A decision by Emirates to take its seat cover cleaning work in-house also spurred the move.
Private equity-backed Trenchard – which takes its name from the founder of the Royal Air Force – was set up in 2015 as a “one-stop shop for interiors” through the acquisition of three established UK businesses, including the Dubai site, says group operations director Lee Butterfield.
The group has revenues of around $40 million, but hopes to increase this to more than $100 million “in the next few years” through organic growth and further acquisition, Butterfield says.
AAR – which is responsible for the cockpit seats on the Boeing 787, 777 and 737 – is the Dubai facility’s biggest client. It also deals directly with a number of Middle Eastern airlines, including Air Arabia and Gulf Air. “We have a nice mix of long-term contractual and ad hoc business,” says Yousfi.
He claims Aero Technics can compete with the equipment manufacturers in the aftermarket because it is “nimble” and offers “brilliant turnaround times”, adding: “We employ 25 people so we can offer a personal service. We take a more intimate approach.”