Having secured a 25+25-year lease on a plot of land at Clark Airport in the Philippines, Hong Kong-based Metrojet broke ground on a new $25 million facility in early 2019. With the new hangar and maintenance facility complete and on the cusp of becoming operational, Asian Sky Media caught up with Sarith Vaikuntun, Metrojet Clark’s general manager, to find out more about the facility as well as the country and OEM approvals that it currently has in place.
When will the new facilities become operational?
Our FAA audit was completed and passed on 22 April with upgraded Ops Specs and we will be accepting aircraft later in May.
How much extra space will be available in the hangar?
7,100 m2 business aviation hangar floor space
11,000 m2 apron and private taxiway
2,000 m2 office and back shops
How many aircraft will you be able to work on at the same time?
With present manpower and skillset, we are now able to support up to 6C on Gulfstream G-450/550/650 and 4C on Bombardier BD-700 simultaneously.
You have added extra parking spaces as well, how many aircraft will now be able to park at the facility?
With the new facility we can park up to ten long range business jets in the hangar. One of either a Boeing BBJ or Airbus ACJ can also be parked in the hangar.
What approvals do you have in place at Clark?
We currently have US FAA, Philippines CAAP, Cayman CAACI, Qatar QCAA, Isle of Man IOM and San Marino SMAR on Gulfstream and Bombardier Global series aircraft and intend to maintain the same in the new facility.
Will you look to expand on the approvals that you currently have?
Yes, we are planning on applying for China CAAC and Hong Kong CAD approvals by early next year.
Do you have a program in place to train local talent?
Yes, we do. Apart from the international team we already have here, we are looking to hire skilled and experienced Filipinos who left home for work and economic betterment that are now open to returning home to be with their families. The value they bring is to mentor and transfer skills to their local compatriots in order to attain world class standards. We have already been successful in attracting five talented individuals from OEMs.
Are Clark and Subic bay both sustainable? Do you see a time in the future one is more popular than the other?
Yes, we think so. As the Philippines government is planning to move the private jet hub from Manila to elsewhere in Philippines, Clark and Subic are both good locations.
Clark is very sustainable because of its excellent infrastructure development plan and the new international airport that will open in Q2 2021. In pre-pandemic times, we had very frequent and direct flights from major cities in the region every week. This creates extra convenience for our operations and to the crew members. There is also a duty-free zone and a high-speed link to Manila.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
• Receive the additional approvals as listed earlier.
• Hire and train local talent.
• Identified in our 3-year plan the possibility of a helicopter link as well as an FBO.
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