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ZAS the way to do it - be part of the African family

Posted 25 June 2018 · Add Comment

ZAS Aviation Services (ZAS) is looking to expand its operations in Africa with MD, Omar Zarkani, saying: “Africa is more in line with the type of company we have set up to be.”

Egyptian ground-handler (ZAS) started its services in 1976 and operates at Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam International Airports, as well as at smaller facilities in the country.
The family run company has 40% of its business in corporate flights, 40% in charter flights and 20% in cargo – depending on the season – and has been a success story in the country even though its managing director, Omar Zarkani, noted: “Egypt has suffered some years of problems.”
However, he added: “We are finally starting to see more flights come into the country and I am very optimistic that Egypt is seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”
Zarkani said the company is looking to expand, adding that while EgyptAir and the Egyptian Aviation Authority provide the ground-support equipment (GSE) at the airports in Egypt, ZAS is interested in operating its own GSE.
“We are more than ready to provide our own equipment if we were offered a licence,” he said.
While the company also offers charter flights in the UAE, its main focus is on Africa, where it has services in Sudan and South Sudan.
“Africa is more in line with the type of company we have set up to be – working in areas where the facilities are not up to the standards that we operate,” explained Zarkani.
“When we first got to Juba, it was very difficult to find people with experience in the industry, so we brought in our training department and they perform training every three months for the locals. We also own the handling equipment there.”
Zarkani added: “There were two things we looked for in Juba – trained staff and the airport facilities.
“Initially, for example, there was no airport follow-me car – it was actually a guy on a bicycle heading in front of the aircraft – so the first thing we did was provide the airport with a follow-me car. We also donated a proper X-ray machine.”
The company has also been operating Khartoum since 1981. It hires equipment from Sudan Airways but it is currently in the process of applying for a licence.
“It takes a long time to be trusted in Africa, but we have gained that trust and reliability,” said Zarkani. “While we might have competitors, we offer everything, from business and corporate, to diplomatic, cargo and commercial services. Business aviation is a big part of the business in Africa and we have the expertise for it.”
Zarkani said that recruitment and training of local staff is also key to success.
“We are very careful in recruiting and training and making sure they have the supplies they need to perform their duties – then we have on-time performance,” he said.
ZAS also provides the catering by working with local hotels.
“We have also sent our catering manager from Egypt to show the hotel staff how to prepare catering for a VIP flight, and the packing of it, and when it should be delivered and how to store it. Doing it this way, we also make a margin. While we don’t do the catering, we do provide the truck with the right temperature controls, this allows us to make sure the food is fresh.”
ZAS now has its sights on three other countries in Africa – Somalia, Tanzania and the Congo.
“East Africa, we feel, is where we can make a strong presence,” said Zarkani.
“People’s attitude in these countries change when they see we are wanting to help make change and they embrace training.
“Some of these countries have no means and facilities but are happy once we are there and they then understand our intentions. In Juba, it took a long time to get the licence, we had to prove that we were there to help, but today we get an automatic renewal of licence as they know we are doing good work. This is what we want to achieve in other African countries.”
 

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