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May 20, 2024May 21st, 2024

Unveiling the Specifics of ACMI: Managing Global Bases

In the dynamic world of aviation, the significance of operational bases cannot be overstated. Traditionally, airlines establish home bases in the countries where they operate, serving as places for aircraft maintenance, engineering activities, crew needs, and more. However, envision an airline that transcends the conventional model, seamlessly adapting to diverse operational landscapes without a fixed home base and establishing bases all around the globe.

Avion Express, a leading narrow-body aircraft ACMI operator, currently has 6 internally managed bases strategically positioned across the globe, in areas where it operates through agreements with clients. The specificity of the company’s activity requires the establishment of bases precisely where needed, showcasing flexibility, efficiency, and the ability to initiate base operations within a short lead time. This raises questions about the intricacies of the process, the challenges involved, the advantages it offers to a diverse pool of ACMI clients, and what can be expected from the teams working across different corners of the world.

Bases from Chile to Vietnam

Aistis Urbonas, VP Technical at Avion Express, emphasizes the importance of being capable of initiating base operations effectively in any country worldwide, a crucial aspect for the ACMI business. Now, the ACMI airline, headquartered in Lithuania and Malta has bases spanning from Europe to Latin America and Southeast Asia:

“Our latest bases were opened in Monterrey, Mexico in January and Cancun, Mexico in March and we opened bases due to our partnerships in these regions. When signing a new contract, the subsequent step to commence operations is to initiate a base in that region. One of the fundamental principles in ACMI logic is to be present and operational here and now. While it's often said in our industry that you never have a home base, I would assert that we can establish one anywhere,” says Aistis.

Eimantas Greviskis, Maintenance Director of Avion Express, shares that, in the company's experience, one of the quickest base operation openings was achieved in one week:

“To respond promptly to business needs requires robust processes, meticulous planning, and a specially prepared team. In our experience, even in the Covid times, we allocated the base from one county to another only in a week, meaning our client can get a fully functioning base in a very short time.”

Eimantas also mentions that as the largest ACMI operator, Avion Express collaborates with providers in different areas:

„While over half of Avion Express' fleet maintenance is handled in internally managed bases, we also establish bases in collaboration with trusted partners. For instance, in Guadalajara, we opened a base coordinated by partners, and during the summer season in Europe, we have over 10 bases in partnerships. In such cases, we follow a meticulous process to ensure all our requirements and standards are met.“

Safety and Regulations Compliance is Mandatory

The establishment of any base commences with securing suitable premises, having a team of skilled professionals prepared to work anywhere, formulating a comprehensive plan outlining aircraft servicing procedures, obtaining all required airport permits, setting up transportation infrastructure, implementing robust IT structures, and satisfying other essential prerequisites.

“As in every part of aviation, safety, and compliance with the regulations of our authorities are the most crucial parts. The base not only should operate but it must do it properly. The primary challenge in creating a base operation is ensuring a prepared workforce and maintaining an adequate stock of aircraft maintenance tools. Everything else follows a well-defined process which we established in many years of experience” – says Eimantas.

He also shares that one of the tips for work efficiency, based on their experience, is to have a local team member in the bases who is well-acquainted with the market and can assist in conducting local activities and continuous discussions and collaboration with authorities.

“ACMI, as a service, is experiencing substantial growth in demand worldwide. Our processes may differ significantly from the ones of regular airlines, leading to constructive discussions with local aviation regulators wherever we operate. We are thankful to local regulators who are opening the markets more broadly to ACMI concept, which is very well established in regions such as Europe, The Americas, and South-East Asia among others and which is bringing substantial operational and financial efficiencies to local airlines and, in the end, creating benefits to local passengers," shares Maintenance Director of Avion Express.

Avion Express is part of Avia Solutions Group – the world’s largest ACMI service company group, which operates a fleet of 212 aircraft. Companies belonging to the group also provide a variety of other aviation services, such as aircraft repair, pilot and crew training, and ground handling.