Despite soaring above its competitors, Tradewinds Aviation Services is very much keeping its feet on the ground in the search for continuous improvement and client satisfaction
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
Starting as a freighter company back in 1987, the past 30 years has seen Tradewinds Aviation Services evolve from its headquarters at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya to become a multi-faceted, well-established ground service operator in Africa’s aviation industry.
Accounting not just for ground services, but also meet and assist, logistics and training provision across Kenya, the business’s influence has gone from being local, to national, and now even international virtue of its high-profile client base.
“Tradewinds has increased its countrywide footprint to include Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, Lamu, Ukunda, Wajir and Isiolo Airports,” elaborates Commercial Director, Clive De Souza. “[From these bases] we are capable of handing all types of aircraft with more than 800 trained and certified staff working in accordance with international standards.
“As such, Tradewinds Aviation prides itself on providing world-class ground handling services and aviation solutions and has acquired affiliations and certifications with leading industry organisations including ASA, IATA, NBAA and RA3.”
In 2011, this impressive CV was bolstered by the acquisition of IATA – ISAGO certification, which has since been renewed; compounding the private Company’s overall significance within the sector across its three divisions – Tradewinds Aviation, Tradewinds Logistics and Tradewinds Training Services.
De Souza enthuses: “We have, over the past decade especially, built a formidable enterprise serving both local and international markets in the fields of ground handling and logistics, and now we have added specialised aviation-related careers training to our remit.”
Above and beyond
This latter proposition was introduced as a result of high demand for affordable aviation training, which itself derived from increased traffic seen at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Leveraging the expertise formulated within Tradewinds over almost 35 years, the ability to pass on this knowledge to the next generation across Kenya seemed a natural step and has allowed the Company to spread its core values more concertedly throughout the industry.
“What defines us is our passion for what we do which is driven by our organisational culture and built from our values of integrity, safety, teamwork and quality,” De Souza explains. “We go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction and I can tell you that with confidence because we currently handle the most difficult and challenging clients at JKIA.
“Holding certificates like ISAGO and RA3 shows our commitment to meeting international standards while the continuous training of our staff helps us maintain our quality standards and services.”
Continuous improvement not only manifests in terms of service expansion and diversification, however. In recent years especially, it has been evident on more intricate levels, incorporating areas of technology advancements, equipment improvements, facility upgrades and an overall strive for efficiency.
De Souza continues: “The Company has really invested in transitioning and improving systems that cater for daily operations for our clients. Passenger check-in system training for staff and close IT support for all our clients is done to meet international standards; and there is also a strong emphasis on maintaining all digital communication channels with various service providers to ensure the SLAs are met for ease of information flow between us and our clients.”
The additional introductions of new tractors and passenger buses, a new training academy to train external clients, and an enhanced organisational structure to streamline the business have been pivotal on an internal note. But they have also reaped rewards externally, as Tradewinds’ client portfolio becomes vaster and more esteemed.
The likes of Magma, DHL, Astral and the UN alone epitomise this notion.
Ahead of the competition
Not only does such investments and improvements make Tradewinds Aviation Services a business partner and provider of choice, but also an employer of choice.
Renowned as an equal opportunity employer, the Company’s astuteness as a training provider has only strengthened the Company’s position, and a healthy relationship with a number of aviation training institutions continues to compound this attribute.
“Then when it comes to training and retention, this is taken very seriously,” De Souza picks up. “Staff undergo mandatory training for a week before being assigned duties, and then attend refresher training every two years. The board of directors hold quarterly meetings with staff to ensure they are working under good conditions, and their personal development is encouraged at all times through our training facility.”
Themes of localisation and internal promotion are achieved as a consequence, fostering a family feel within the overall business that can then translate into a personable relationship with customers and airports.
“We believe our workforce is our greatest resource, so we ensure that they are continuously trained to ensure we maintain our standards and surpass clients’ expectations,” De Souza affirms. “In the aviation industry, we experience a lot of disruptive technology inventions, so need well-trained staff to be able to monitor other ground handlers, as well as traffic through JKIA, new technologies, new ground service equipment, improved systems, and necessary investments so that we can stay ahead of the competition.
“If we meet these requirements, then we will not only grow to have representation in the whole of East Africa as a ground handling company, but we will also become a training institute of choice in the region as well.”