20 sep Meet Airline Technical Support: the company that continues to seize opportunities
Kris Bleyenberg started his career in the aircraft industry in 1996. After graduating from the Aircraft Maintenance & Training School in Woensdrecht, he was immediately recruited by Fokker. From there, his career became an adventure filled with international experiences, professional growth and entrepreneurial expansion, which ultimately convinced Kris to start his own business: Airline Technical Support (ATS).
It all started in 2006, when Kris decided to establish his own company. A year later, he was joined by a small group of colleagues. Kris: ‘I quickly discovered that there is only so much you can do with a small team, so I decided to recruit more people to serve a bigger audience.’ That worked! While growing his team, Kris continued to work as a technical specialist with KLM City Hopper, as a project manager with Fokker, and as technical representative for lease companies.
In 2017, Kris made his next move: ‘In order to get hired as a main contractor, we decided to focus more specifically on line maintenance, and so we set up our 145 line maintenance certification and were contracted by TUS Airways. That went extremely well – until the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.’
From line maintenance to parking maintenance and selling aircraft
During the pandemic, Kris was fortunately able to turn his business around and switched from line maintenance for TUS to parking maintenance. A logical decision, he explains. ‘Luckily, we were able to get some of the best planes to Woensdrecht. That’s when we started trading in aircraft through our company Airline Fleet Support BV, which was founded in 2018. Thanks to our valuable connections with TUS Airways, we were able to set up the entire process of buying, repairing and preparing aircraft for sale. We soon discovered how complex the entire process of trading in aircraft actually is.’
In 2019, Kris took over a company that traded in parts based in Alphen aan de Rijn. Koolhaas Alphen specialises in parts for narrow-body and single-aisle aircraft. Through this acquisition, the Airline Support Group was born in 2020. It currently includes Airline Technical Support (maintenance), Airline Fleet Support (aircraft) and Koolhaas Alphen (aircraft parts).Kris Bleyenberg is enthusiastic about the direction in which his company is moving. ‘Ever since we started, our portfolio has continued to grow. We now have five models of aircraft in our portfolio: four Fokker 70s and one Fokker 100. Last year, we sent our first aircraft to Kenya. The second was sent in February and we are currently preparing two more.’
A wide range of activities
In the meantime, the company has obtained its certification for Embraer 135, 145 and Legacy, and was able to expand its activities to include maintenance for these aircraft in all areas, within driving distance from Woensdrecht. Kris continues: ‘Because Covid-19 really forced us to refocus, we were contracted by EASP, the company that handles the European Union border patrol for Frontex, to maintain their Dornier 328-100 aircraft. Apart from maintenance, we also focused on several full-service aircraft projects to support the parts trading division within the group in the past few years.’
Despite the challenges that Kris and his team were faced with, he was always able to turn a negative experience into something positive. Kris: ‘Growing a company has been a fantastic experience – and to keep it growing despite the many challenges we have had to face. The secret behind our success? I’ve never had a specific plan, to be honest, but always intended to provide our dedicated customers with the broadest possible range of services. Opportunities will always come your way, and when they do, it’s up to you whether or not you want to seize them.’
In conclusion, Kris is happy to be based at Business Park Aviolanda. ‘Our network here has been a great help to our growth and expansion. Opportunities arise when you’re working in close proximity to other big players in the aircraft industry. For example, when Fokker had not yet obtained its 737 Max maintenance certificate, we were able to support them with parking maintenance while they supported us with parts tooling equipment and hangar rental. We complement each other, which results in pleasant and smooth collaboration. Apart form this, we are one of their preferred providers of experienced manpower for covering peak workloads. Another one of our partners is 4Repair. We turn to them for sheet metal or whenever we get a project that requires the specific expertise of both our companies.’