An In­ter­view with Jet Avi­a­tion’s John Riggir

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AMIDST THE ON­GO­ING SURGE OF ASIAN BUSI­NESS AVI­A­TION, SWITZER­LAND-BASED JET AVI­A­TION HAS EMERGED AS ONE OF THE RE­GION’S TOP PLAY­ERS. The busi­ness avi­a­tion ser­vices com­pany has been set­ting up and ex­pand­ing MRO fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion, and opened an in­te­rior shop in Sin­ga­pore. We talk to John Riggir, Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of Jet Avi­a­tion Sin­ga­pore, about the group’s Asian ac­tiv­i­ties and goals.

Q: Please tell us about the three things you like the most about your job.

See­ing progress in mo­tion is what mo­ti­vates me. Also, you get a free ed­u­ca­tion ev­ery­day here, just by turn­ing up with an open mind. Lastly, we get to turn dreams into re­al­ity.

Q: Jet Avi­a­tion is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary this year. What do you con­sider to have been its three most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments in the past half-cen­tury?

One achieve­ment is hav­ing de­vel­oped the Hirschmann fam­ily vi­sion of ser­vic­ing pri­vate air­craft into one of the world’s most recog­nised busi­ness avi­a­tion ser­vices com­pa­nies.

We en­tered the VIP com­ple­tions busi­ness and are con­tin­u­ally mas­ter­ing the lat­est tech­nolo­gies to lead the in­dus­try in de­sign and pro­duc­tion. We also in­te­grated a new cor­po­rate per­spec­tive and long-term global plan fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of Jet Avi­a­tion by Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics in 2008. Q: Con­grat­u­la­tions on the open­ing of your Ma­cau-based MRO fa­cil­ity. What are your top near-term goals for this fa­cil­ity?

Thank you. The first goal is to be­come op­er­a­tional by early 2017. We also in­tend to gain FAA and Ma­cau, China and Hong Kong ap­provals. With this fa­cil­ity, we aim to grow our ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to sup­port our Hong Kong fa­cil­ity and ul­ti­mately ad­dress more main­te­nance op­por­tu­ni­ties from within the North Asia mar­ket.

Q: What types of air­craft can your new Ma­cau-based MRO fa­cil­ity ser­vice?

The fa­cil­ity will have Gulf­stream ASC and Das­sault Fal­con Jet ASC sta­tus, and will sup­port Bom­bardier Global Ex­press mod­els by Q3 2017.

Q: You are ex­pand­ing your hangar at Sin­ga­pore’s Sele­tar Aero­space Park. What is the main rea­son for this?

We are build­ing a third hangar that will add 3,850 square me­tres of hangar space, while also in­creas­ing the size of our in­te­rior shop. We are ex­pand­ing to meet mar­ket de­mand and are cre­at­ing space to de­liver our range of ser­vices on larger air­craft, as well as to ac­com­mo­date de­tailed re­fur­bish­ment projects.

Q: In which parts of South­east Asia, apart from Sin­ga­pore, do you see a grow­ing de­mand for re­fur­bish­ment, mod­i­fi­ca­tion and up­grade ser­vices?

We are ad­dress­ing the en­tire Asia-Pa­cific mar­ket with our


RMU ca­pa­bil­i­ties and carry reg­is­tra­tion ap­provals for 13 coun­tries to ad­dress the South­east Asian mar­ket, as well as FAA, EASA, China, India, CASA Aus­tralia and all Ber­muda and Cay­man ap­provals. There are nu­mer­ous air­craft in this mar­ket in need of RMU work as the av­er­age age of air­craft stretches out. Air­craft are be­ing op­er­ated longer due to the higher rate of chang­ing own­er­ship in the re­gion, and this drives de­mand for what we see as a grow­ing re­quire­ment go­ing for­ward.

Q: What do you be­lieve is Sin­ga­pore’s role in the South­east Asian avi­a­tion in­dus­try?

Sele­tar Aero­space Park is al­ready recog­nised as the most es­tab­lished hub for busi­ness avi­a­tion ser­vices in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion. Go­ing for­ward, new ser­vices and ca­pa­bil­i­ties will con­tinue to be en­cour­aged. The Sin­ga­pore govern­ment is keen to keep this lo­ca­tion at the fore­front in terms of in­fra­struc­ture, skills and ca­pac­ity. Our goal is to ac­com­mo­date mar­ket growth and achieve stan­dards that meet the world’s best prac­tices.

Q: What were the three ma­jor chal­lenges Jet Avi­a­tion faced in Asian avi­a­tion in the past five years? How did you re­spond to these?

We lacked the nec­es­sary hangar ca­pac­ity to de­ploy our ser­vices, so we built a new hangar in Sin­ga­pore, adding 5,000 sqm in 2014. We also se­cured ten­ure of the new hangar in Ma­cau that year, which will pro­vide an ad­di­tional 4,000 sqm in Q1 2017. And, of course, we are build­ing the new 3,850-sqm hangar at Sele­tar that will be com­pleted in Q3 2017.

To de­velop and re­tain a skilled work­force, we fo­cused on en­gag­ing a core group of ex­pe­ri­enced main­te­nance and in­te­rior spe­cial­ists. In ad­di­tion, we sup­ported govern­ment and pri­vate ini­tia­tives in the de­vel­op­ment of in­dus­try ap­pren­tice­ship schemes and tech­ni­cal train­ing in­sti­tutes.

We had to de­velop syn­er­gies to bet­ter link and stan­dard­ise our en­tire world­wide FBO net­work. Across re­gions, we har­monised our sys­tems us­ing FBO1 to con­nect and man­age our op­er­a­tions. We also re­cently re­ceived reg­is­tra­tion to the IS-BAH™ Stan­dard across our en­tire FBO net­work in EMEA and Asia.


Q: More strin­gent pri­vate jet book­ing rules at Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port have in­dus­try play­ers worried that air­craft ac­tiv­ity may re­duce as a re­sult. What is Jet Avi­a­tion’s stand on this and how do you en­sure that busi­ness jet ac­tiv­ity lev­els are main­tained?

Air­port land­ing slot re­stric­tions and con­ges­tion in Hong Kong is all part of a new re­al­ity that will cer­tainly im­pact and po­ten­tially even cap ac­tiv­ity. It might be a while be­fore ca­pac­ity can be in­creased, as this would nec­es­sar­ily in­volve an ex­pan­sion of the air­port and the com­mis­sion­ing of a new run­way with more land. Mean­while, we op­er­ate busi­ness as usual and will con­tinue to work within the rules.

Q: More and more pri­vate jet book­ing plat­forms have been launched in re­cent years, and are even de­scribed as in­dus­try ‘dis­rup­tors’. What im­pact have these plat­forms had on the busi­nesses of pri­vate jet char­ter op­er­a­tors?

We ap­pre­ci­ate in­no­va­tion that spurs aware­ness and ef­fi­ciency in the in­dus­try. Pro­vided these plat­forms are op­er­at­ing legally and are ef­fec­tive, we should ex­pect to see more char­ter jet ex­po­sure in the mar­ket as the use of these plat­forms in­creases.

Q: What three most ur­gent im­prove­ments/changes do you wish to see in terms of civil avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tions or in­fra­struc­ture in South­east Asia?

Air­ports ac­cept­ing the im­por­tance of pri­vate jets, be­yond be­ing just a statis­tic. They need to recog­nise the eco­nomic value-add that the in­dus­try brings, in­clud­ing other tan­gi­ble in­vest­ment ben­e­fits the own­ers bring to cities and re­gions.

Sec­ond, a har­monised Asia and Pa­cific Air Space, with reg­u­la­tions un­der one agreed stan­dard. Lastly, tax ex­emp­tion for avi­a­tion ser­vices de­liv­ered at all in­ter­na­tional air­ports across the re­gion. Tax-free trade zones.

Q: What are Jet Avi­a­tion’s plans in South­east Asia for the next five years?

We will con­tinue ex­e­cut­ing our busi­ness case, which un­der­pins our in­vest­ments to date, to ex­pand our op­er­a­tions and serve new mar­kets where there is de­mand, ul­ti­mately align­ing with and ben­e­fit­ing our group strat­egy and growth plans.



Jet Avi­a­tion’s new hangar at Sele­tar Air­port in Sin­ga­pore is slated to open this year THIS PAGE, FROM LEFT FBO lounge in Sin­ga­pore; MRO fa­cil­ity in Ma­cau

Jet Avi­a­tion’s MRO hangar (top) and FBO ter­mi­nal in Sin­ga­pore; IS-BAH reg­is­tra­tion for Jet Avi­a­tion’s FBO net­work in EMEA & Asia at MEBAA 2016

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