Keeping world's planes airworthy

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-25 07:40

Keeping world's planes airworthy

A technician repairs components of an HNA-serviced aircraft. [Photo provided to China Daily]

HNA Aviation Technic finesses art of on-demand services in aircraft maintenance

HNA Group, owner of Hainan Airlines and Swiss airline caterer Gategroup Holding AG, plans to establish more aircraft maintenance facilities throughout the world.

The plan is to introduce its services to major global cities over the next five years.

Other measures include recruiting more foreign talent, infusing flight crew uniforms with more Chinese elements, equipping the C-919 aircraft with necessary cabin requirements, and tightening safety standards and employee training programs.

The C-919 is China's first home-built large passenger plane.

HNA will do all that to promote the group's aviation business globally in the long run.

Cao Fenggang, chairman of HNA Aviation Technic Co Ltd, which is responsible for the group's aircraft maintenance, aviation parts, and spray services, said overseas branches are in good health.

HNA's international air network is also growing to compete with other established foreign players.

Supported by more than 7,500 employees, HNA Aviation Technic currently provides aircraft support services at more than 200 service stations and operates 30 bases across the world.

"Where HNA's airplanes fly, we serve there," Cao said.

Besides in-house business from HNA, Technic explores external market opportunities. Domestic players such as Air China Ltd and China Eastern Airlines are its clients for aircraft maintenance, parts and support.

Although an HNA subsidiary, Technic has already established its own systems to ensure its clients' safe operations with high efficiency.

In order to meet the demands of overseas operations, HNA Technic set up its international teams, Cao said.

For example, a team of over 100 technicians specialize in aircraft on ground or AOG, and work toward preventing any problem that could potentially prevent an aircraft from becoming air-borne.

They have visas of almost 40 countries and can arrive at any spot, wherever the client needs, in a short time, Cao said.

Pu Ming, vice-president of Hainan Airlines Holding Co Ltd, said the company will start more direct flights between second-tier Chinese cities and top-tier foreign cities, as well as first-tier Chinese cities and second-tier foreign cities, given the significant demand for international travel in China.

"As a corporate participant in the Belt and Road Initiative, we will focus on developing new air routes between China and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We will introduce this year flights connecting Beijing with Belgrade via Prague, and Shenzhen with two Australian cities," said Pu.

Chinese tourists made 109 million outbound trips in 2016, up 11 percent year-on-year, accounting for 9.6 percent of global tourists, data from the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation show. They spent $165 billion globally in 2016, up 28 percent year-on-year, and 11 percent of international tourism revenue.

"As we are seeing healthy customer demand from fast-growing developing markets for people-to-people exchanges, it is also equally important to develop markets in other BRICS countries particularly Brazil, Russia and South Africa, and other new emerging markets participating in the Belt and Road Initiative," said Pu.

In addition to launching new routes and regularly increasing its fleet to boost revenue, Hainan Airlines recruits crew members, such as flight attendants, in countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

The practice started in 2000. It currently has more than 4,700 flight attendants. More than 300 of them are from outside the Chinese mainland-from places like Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries.

Pu said proactive risk management is key to safety management. Technic has developed a self-reporting safety management system, which is non-punishing and encourages staff to report loopholes and procedure risks.

At present, the system has collected more than 4,000 reports on safety risks from frontline employees, a deep source of data for risk management.

In August, the group also launched a "Safety Day for Public" in Haikou, where its headquarters are located, to highlight its management experience and hardware development.

According to statistics from Boeing, in the fourth quarter of 2016, Hainan Airlines' 787 fleet achieved 99.62 percent reliability, topping the ranks for the same type of planes.

"Even though Hainan Airlines is a latecomer to the global market, pursuing a differential competitive strategy is necessary for the company because other carriers have already scooped up many market resources," said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.

HNA Group netted over 600 billion yuan ($91 billion) in revenue and provided 410,000 jobs across the globe in 2016.

Its international tourism industry chain has also grown quickly, covering all six basic businesses (food, hotel, transport, travel, shopping and entertainment).

HNA Group has also completed the acquisition of a 16.2 percent stake in Swiss airport retailer Dufry AG from Singaporean sovereign wealth funds GIC and Temasek Holdings in August.

HNA Group will now allocate its resources worldwide as it becomes an international company, said Hu Angang, head of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies of Tsinghua University.

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