Since establishing itself in the UAE back in 1996, VD Gulf has grown to become one of the largest and most successful independent maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) companies for aviation in the Middle East.
From its base in the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, the MRO oversees an extensive maintenance and repair operation, at the heart of which lies a 22,000sqm hangar capable of accommodating two wide-body aircraft and six narrow-borrow aircraft simultaneously.
Certified by a number of in international and local regulatory authorities, which includes certifications from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the company has fostered a global reputation as an efficient and specialised MRO.
“We are always working to expand our capabilities based on the customer needs. We discuss it with them, find what they require from our side, and then provide proper, safe, qualified maintenance for them,” explains Mikhail Khoroshaev, general director, VD Gulf.
Sitting down to speak with Aviation Business, the general director shed light on the company’s progress, highlighting a few of the recent additions to VD Gulf’s extensive client portfolio, which includes the likes of flydubai and Kuwait Airways.
Khoroshaev briefly discussed the MRO’s recently won tender to deliver aircraft maintenance services for Rossiya Airlines.
As one of the largest airlines operating in Moscow and Saint Petersburg with approximately 350 aircraft in its fleet, Rossiya has tapped VD Gulf to perform a total of seven heavy maintenance checks for its Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
When pressed on his viewpoint of the region’s MRO market, the general director noted the rising opportunity surrounding cabin customisation, an area that he believes holds great promise for VD Gulf and one that the company has committed itself towards.
“We are going to see new opportunities which OEM providers are creating for us … airlines would like to see, for example, their cabin as a different layout, which offers a different approach to their passengers,” explains Khoroshaev.
“We believe modification of aircraft and cabin modification will be the future for the MRO market. We are working on this to be the best value for money, MRO provider. This is our strategy for the next 10 – 15 years.”
Other developments influencing the MRO space include the advent of digital technologies, such as the increasing demand for in-flight Wi-Fi. To ensure continued success in the market moving forward, MROs will need to work closely with OEMs to ensure they have the capability to deliver cabin modification, IFE installation, and connectivity.
These demands do, however, present new challenges for the MRO companies in aviation. In addition to dealing with space availability, in which MROs are being pressured by the increasing number of aircraft in service, VD Gulf’s general director shares that the limited availability of talent remains a pressing issue.
With its own in-house training department, VD Gulf maintains a trainee program that it collaborates with a number of local academic institutions, such as the Fujairah Aviation Academy. The program comprises of hand-on training alongside VD Gulf’s staff, and upon completion of their studies, a select few candidates may find an employment opportunity with the company.
“Most of the MROs, they are facing the challenge of having the proper qualified, right calibre people to provide the safe and proper maintenance to the aircraft … preparation of this staff will be the big challenge of the local market, as it is the fastest growing market in the world,” concludes Khoroshaev.