Standing out from the cloud
Cemair has been placed in a strong position to cement their standing as one of Africa's top aviation leasing specialists
Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Stuart Shirra
Based in South Africa, CemAir are a specialist aircraft leasing company who operate a large fleet of Beech 1900 airliners 3 Bombardier CRJ's. The company offers the leasing of turboprop and regional jets on flexible short, medium or long-term contracts to a variety of clients including oil and gas companies, humanitarian charities and businesses. The service provided can be tailored to a customer's requirements, which can include a full maintenance team, operational support and pilots. Miles van der Molen, CEO of Cemair, is very pleased with how far the company has come since its inception in 2005 and is keen to highlight the vast experience they have amassed since that time: "we have gained considerable experience in operating and supporting our aircraft in a variety of conditions since we began the company in 2005. we place a strong emphasis on maintaining fi rst world standards in third world environments, striving to achieve high levels of reliability and international operating standards." the company has operating and leasing experience throughout Africa and the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Nigeria, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa.
CemAir grew from a partnership which began in 2002 with the acquisition of a Cessna Grand Caravan. The partnership developed further with the purchase of several piston powered aircrafts and following the procurement of the first of several Beech 1900's in early 2005, the operation was formalised as the company known as CemAir today.
"We currently have a fleet of 15 planes including Beech 1900's and Bombardier CRJ's, but we are in negotiations to purchase several more to take our fleet to over 20. This will be a big acquisition for us, it will further increase our availability to our clients and bring in more business," states van der Molen.
Aviation companies are very much aware that their aircraft will always need replacement parts and CemAir are no different. However, CemAir stand out in African aviation as they have their own spares and parts operation in the US, which has a supply of equipment and parts that can be sent to South Africa on short notice. "Having an office in the US, that can send us parts and equipment when needed, gives us a big advantage over potential competitors. We spend much less time having a plane grounded due to waiting on a replacement part than if we were forced to source that spare, which could take days or weeks and cost three times as much. This can be the difference between making a profit and being forced to turn down a contract," van der Molen remarks.
Expanding Their Horizons
CemAir's steady and manageable growth philosophy remains a good basis for future expansion. The company are aware that there is a strong need for them to evolve in order to remain energetic and dynamic. This evolution is not just in terms of new equipment for the fleet, but also in their business model. Van der Molen is confident that CemAir will evolve, but they will do this carefully and only in the company's best interests: "Expansion and evolution are always important in the business world. If you don't expand you will never survive and if you don't adapt and evolve, you will quickly get lost in the crowd. We have plans to expand the service and parts sector of the company, as this is an area that will always be utilised by our operation teams and can greatly reduce the amount of time our aircraft are grounded, but we will do this carefully and keep within our budget."
CemAir's focus has now turned to the regional jet market, following the acquisition of the company's first CRJ in February 2012 and van der Molen has identified this as an emerging market where CemAir can really make their mark: "We foresee significant growth for this type of aircraft in the regions in which we operate and intend to enhance our fleet to create a commanding position in this market. A lot of our business comes from word of mouth and corporate recommendations, which can really make a difference to the bottom line of a company. We pride ourselves on having a stellar reputation among African aviation companies in the regional market."
Setting the Standard
CemAir have always ensured that they are as highly qualified as possible when it comes to international accreditations in aviation. The company's main focus is on "reliability, safety and quality, using constantly evolving internationally recognised standards." As a full member of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), CemAir has access to the latest safety information and initiatives which they will act on accordingly. Additionally, the FSF conducts regular aviation safety seminars and since their establishment in 1947, have become the global hub of aviation safety information.
CemAir are a BARS (Basic Aviation Risk Standard) certified operator. BARS is a Flight Safety Foundation initiative, created to establish a common aviation standard and auditing process to evaluate aviation operators to ensure safety for aviation activities. Van der Molen is proud of the certifications and accreditations that they currently hold: "We are the holders of Aircraft Operating Certificates (AOC Part 121) issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, and we hold licenses for both Domestic and International Air Services for scheduled and non-scheduled services and these are a clear indication that we do everything by the book."
A Strong Position
CemAir are able to carefully select the clients and business that it undertakes. "For many companies, business is business, no matter who the client is and they will gladly take all comers. However, for us that is not the case. We can hand-pick our clients and partners to work with, because we have spent many years carefully expanding our business and gaining international standards, which other companies do not have. This has enabled us to offer our services to a different type of clientele, who come with their own recommendations from other aviation companies," says van der Molen. With CemAir's accreditations and strong business acumen, the company has been placed in a strong position to cement their standing as one of Africa's top aviation leasing specialists.