When the words airport and workshop are used in the same sentence, many people tend to imagine a small run-down facility, set on the airport’s perimeter, and primarily used for servicing only the airport’s equipment.
While some companies do operate in a such way, other airport workshops use their specialist knowledge of ground support, and ground handling equipment maintenance to grow their presence – but not always solely dedicated to working within the aviation industry. One interesting case is that of Aviator GSE Repair Shop, located at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.
The company was established in 2009 as Nordic Aero, with the main goal of servicing its own ground handling equipment. Frequent oil changes, chassis repairs, and routine maintenance of tow-trucks and other ground-support equipment was the daily norm for the company.
Following 3 years of successful internal operations, positive rumours spread and the first external customer was onboarded. A prominent travel industry catering company tasked Aviator’s workshop with the maintenance and repair of truck chassis, scissors system and air conditioning equipment. Truck servicing was also added to the company’s repertoire, which meant a completely new and reimagined era for the workshop.
Johan Selen, Aviator GSE Repair Shop manager had this to say, “We knew we wanted our business to grow, maybe not in the first few years, but at a later date. There were plans, but no concrete course of action. We never thought that our expansion would return us to the market that the GSE shop was so distanced from. Looking back at it, we do see how our expertise in full air conditioning, chassis and other component maintenance, as well as having a team of certified professionals created a clear value proposition for our first client.”
Soon after that, several contracts with the main Swedish airport operator, individual airlines, and ground handling companies were signed. “The growth might’ve been more rapid, but at the cost of downtime for customer equipment, which has never really been an option for us,” said Johan Selen.
Even with all customers onboarded, the biggest change of pace in the company’s history was yet to come. Beginning in 2019 Aviator GSE workshop was tasked with the technical maintenance of an entire ground fleet, made up of more than 100 delivery trucks from a variety of Swedish parcel delivery companies.
“From today’s point of view, our reputation and dedication to quality work unintentionally opened new markets beyond the airport for us. Building on the fact that aviation is heavily regulated and standardised, our previous background and expertise meant that we could offer services that comply with the highest-safety and quality standards. This shift into a market which we had never envisaged proved to be a positive boost for our business, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. While aviation equipment maintenance never stops, even when aircraft are grounded, we still managed to work at 60% of our pre-COVID capacity, a major portion of which is comprised of non-aviation customers’ equipment,” added Johan Selen.