Mr. Andreas Christodoulides, CEO, Zela Aviation, sees new opportunities in the cargo market as well as the executive aircraft and helicopter market even as recovery is slow. He speaks of efficient solutions to meet the demand in the industry, in this exclusive interview with Aviation & Allied Business Journal.
Q: The industry is on a recovery mode given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; how would you describe the recovery so far for Zela Aviation?
A: Zela Aviation has been aggressively looking to recover with the demand of cargo flights and cargo aircraft; and start-up airlines taking advantage of lower lease rates. Also in April 2021, we established Zela Jet for Executive aircraft and helicopters again due to high demand.
Q: How would you assess the aircraft lease market in Africa in terms of conformity to lease agreements, and volume of demand for leases?
A: Zela Aviation has already placed ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) aircraft in Nigeria starting May 20 due to aggressive ACMI rates. And we also have Exclusive aircraft in our portfolio to serve the Africa Market.
Q: Zela Aviation was involved in an agreement with PrecisionAir recently; could you explain what motivated this, and do you expect more of such partnerships with any other African airline?
A: Tanzania is purely a tourism destination; and due to the drop of tourism, Precision Air has excess capacity to market worldwide. Also, Jambojet, which is part of Kenya Airways has just been signed and we are looking to extend in Africa.
Q: Many airlines have been faced with overcapacity and redundant aircraft in their fleets while there are also start-ups needing aircraft for their fleet; do you see the aircraft demand in the aircraft re-marketing market so far as encouraging?
A: Definitely as mentioned, re-marketing is a must these days due to the fact that new start-up and existing airlines couldn’t afford to replace their aircraft before COVID-19 started.
Q: What would you see as the main challenge in the ad hoc and private jet charter markets, and do you hope for a turnaround sooner?
A: As mentioned before, Zela Jet is purely on private charter markets with executive aircraft;and due to the fact that this is replacing first and business class for clients.
Q: As a player supporting the tourism market, what is your assessment of the tourism market in Africa and elsewhere as it affects your business?
A: Border restriction by governments affects tourism, but we see in Africa and even Europe, domestic markets to be increasing.
Q: The aviation and airline industry faces recovery challenges; in what key area of airline operation do you think aviation consultancy is still vital, and do you think consultancy is cost-effective for airlines this period?
A: Definitely we have been approached by a lot of airlines on consultancy to restructure their fleet, in the most cost-effective way.
Q: Where do you see Zela Aviation in the African market over the next 10 years?
A: We have been always in Africa and attending a lot of conferences. But we are focusing on certain countries these days in Africa where we have been into,and we step in asap as new developments come daily.