Winter 2019

Our Knights & Distinguished Personalities
Sky High Aspirations

Kadri Muhiddin, Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMAC Aerospace based in Basel, Switzerland, is flying high as the company celebrates a decade of service excellence and moves on a higher growth trajectory.

Presiding over the largest privately-owned aircraft maintenance and repair facilities in the world, Muhiddin is looking ahead with considerable optimism to developing his business to even higher levels.

As well as facing the challenges of the private aviation business, Muhiddin is often seen piloting his Pilatus PC-12, one of the world’s greatest single-engine aircraft, for his business and pleasure.

“I had a smaller Piper aircraft but the need for an actual business aircraft was increasing to cater to the growth of our company as I had to travel further and faster. The Pilatus PC-12 is the perfect solution as it is very flexible and can be easily converted from a nine-seater aircraft into a one-ton payload cargo aircraft,” he says.

With a range of 1,650 nautical miles and an ability to land and take off on short runways and in diverse weather conditions, the PC-12 provides Muhiddin with what he calls his ‘independence of choice’. He reckons that 80 to 90 per cent of his business flying requirements are met by this PC-12 aircraft with the rest being simply a matter of range limitation. 

Similarly, selective choice and independence are implicit in AMAC which was founded just over a decade ago and started operations in November 2008. AMAC provides an increasing range of exemplary standards of maintenance, technical services and deliveries for its discerning customers.

In the fast-paced aviation industry, Muhiddin is a renowned name that connotes engineering and service excellence and customer recognition with an international reputation. Muhiddin is a career aviation man with a business model that reflects his career and high-profile status across all aspects of the global aviation business. He also has his feet firmly on the ground and as an engineer understands the business ‘hands-on’ with his sound aviation knowledge, experience and expertise that are legendary.

Muhiddin started his primary and secondary school in Lebanon at the American Angelical school. He then went to Bristol for his studies to become a CAA licensed maintenance engineer in 1977 and later did his Aeronautical Chartered Engineering degree at Kingston University in London in 2008. Thereafter, he became a Fellow Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and was awarded the title of FRAeS. After finishing his studies to become an avionic maintenance engineer, he went to work with Iraqi Airways from 1977-1979. Later he worked with Kuwait Airways from 1979 to 1990, when the invasion brought his career to a temporary halt.

“I then moved to the UK with my young family and pursued my career in spare parts procurement for a time as well as working for one of the MROs,” he says. Muhiddin then embarked on a business strategy with his combination of engineering expertise and business acumen involving maintenance, passenger to cargo conversion management, commercial maintenance management and technical services in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I can claim I had 22 years on the shop floor where I understood the processes in the range of services to be provided,” he continues.

With more than four decades of experience at the highest level, AMAC is a testament to Muhiddin’s experience and expertise as he has been a passionate advocate of private aviation all his working life with a visionary approach to private, corporate and VIP aviation without forgetting the importance of the commercial airline business.

“In the end, it all comes down to experience and having an excellent qualified team around you with huge dedication and motivation. It is a combination of hard work and an investment in our highly motivated workforce. This is how and why the company has grown with significant multi-million-dollar investment from our shareholders. When one considers that AMAC handles 98 per cent of our total work in-house, both the complexity and capabilities of our engineering teams are immense.  There are only a handful of companies such as our own in the world that are privately owned and we are one of a kind. For 2019 and beyond, we are looking with confidence in the private aviation sector and I am hopeful that we will continue to do well,” he continues.

AMAC was launched in 2008 with a single hangar, a small and specialist team and a grand vision from its founders. Today, it is a world leader providing turnkey aviation solutions and maintenance and completion services for narrow and wide-bodied VIP, business and corporate aviation.

AMAC’s ‘return to service’ credo is world renowned with four strategically placed state-of-the-art hangars at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, within the airport expansion zone. There is also a newly opened hangar at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, which can also provide aviation maintenance services to the Middle East. As part of the company’s strategic expansion plans in the Middle East, AMAC received its first single bay wide-body hangar in Istanbul in the first quarter of 2018 in Bodrum.

“Since Bodrum is seasonal, our plan is to combine corporate and commercial work in this hangar where we do heavy maintenance for commercial aircraft in the winter and provide the same for the corporate clients in the summer. Bodrum records over 2,500 rotations per season (in six months only) in the summer,” says Muhiddin.

AMAC now operates seven hangars across three countries and continues to pioneer maintenance, modifications and upgrades for narrow and wide-bodied jets and has forged strategic partnerships with many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Muhiddin explains: “It was only by the end of 2008 that we received all the necessary accreditations, certifications and approvals for AMAC.  In terms of what we were seeking to achieve in AMAC covering maintenance, refurbishment, completions, management and charter services, our establishment and start-up were unprecedented and unheard of in many respects within the industry.   It is hard work sometimes working 18 hours a day to deliver our refurbishment, completions and MRO services on budget and on time. It is a win-win situation for our clients and AMAC as we deliver in a transparent way on time, on budget with mutual respect for our elite customers as our watchwords. To a large extent, AMAC has old-fashioned values and I must also credit our shareholders for their strategic vision too.”

Muhiddin alluded to a situation in which a potential deal was becoming delayed with the customer defaulting. Rather than engage litigiously with the client, Muhiddin was a man of his word and acted in a humane way and cancelled the contract and refunded their deposit of $25 million without a deduction even when it became non-refundable due to their delay.

AMAC Basel operates four hangars with an expansion zone of more than 28,000 sq m of floor space, over 6,000 sq m workshop and office space as well as an apron of 44,000 sq m. In total, AMAC has more than 85,000 sq m of working space at EuroAirport. Here, AMAC also provides maintenance services for Pilatus aircraft including PC-12 NGs.

All AMAC hangars are equipped with the latest technological innovations, with the fourth hangar – operational since 2016 – designed to accommodate one wide-bodied and two narrow-bodied aircraft and primarily dedicated to maintenance projects. AMAC dedicates one wide-body hangar to maintenance and two wide-body hangars to completions and refurbishment services.

These hangars combine to comfortably accommodate multiple aircraft including Boeing 747s, B777s, B787s, Airbus 340s, A330s and can extend to service an A380. The smaller hangar accommodates BBJs, Airbus 318, A319, A320 and A321, Gulfstreams and Bombardier jets.

Now that AMAC is an Approved Service Center for Bombardier corporate aircraft, the company has decided to build a fifth hangar of nearly 5,000 sq m. Dedicated exclusively to Bombardier’s products, the hangar will be delivered to AMAC by the end of 2019.

Now into its 11th year of operations, AMAC has exceeded all expectations to become a leading global provider of bespoke private aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and completion services for private aircraft and business aircraft for international VIPs and corporates.

Last year, AMAC complemented its European and Middle East business with inroads into Asia as the company is at advanced stages with multiple Far Eastern clients for completion and maintenance.

Muhiddin is also involved in a number of other aviation companies. He serves as the executive chairman of Tailwind Havayollari and is also engaged in an aviation consultancy at Stansted in the United Kingdom.

The Middle East is a significant business area for AMAC and the company has regional sales offices for Pilatus and was present with Pilatus at the Dubai Airshow in November 2017 and 2018. Pilatus is the only Swiss company to develop, manufacture and sell aircraft to customers around the world including the PC-12 turbo-prop much respected by Muhiddin. These aircraft were the world’s first-ever business aircraft for use on short unprepared runways.

 “All our customers are important and we must deliver the best services to meet their requirement, on budget and on time,” he concludes. 

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