I n 2010 Stephan Krainer founded Primus Aircraft Management Solutions in Gratz, Austria, with the idea of providing outsourced aircraft management solutions to smaller operators. “It was clear to me that many smaller operators simply did not have – and still don’t – a sufficiently skilled and well-staffed technical department. That being the case it seemed clear that one could make a viable business out of providing a range of outsourced technical services focused on Continuing Airworthiness Management (CAMO),” Krainer explains.
Accordingly, Primus built up a strong technical skills base in-house on the basis that the cost could be spread across a number of operator clients. “We can either act as their outsourced technical department focused on health and safety, regulatory compliance and maintenance, or we can provide a menu of specific services to complement whatever strengths they have in-house,” Krainer explains.
Primus offers a complete range of solutions. Where it does not have specific disciplines and capabilities in-house, as for example, with flight support, it will arrange and manage the outsourcing of those services, so that the client still has a single point of contact, namely their Primus account manager, for all services.
“By focusing on managing third party suppliers across a variety of disciplines, we are able to stay lean and provide our clients with a very cost effective service,” Krainer notes. Client operators without a sufficiently large and competent technical department would have to outsource some services anyway, so it makes sense for them to leverage Primus’s expertise. “Our clients know that we will contract with the best people at the best prices,” he notes.
After winning a number of clients in Austria, Krainer turned his attention to operators in Africa and was able to sign up one of the biggest and most able African operators, Best Fly, in Angola. “Best Fly look after some 14 aircraft and we provide a range of CAMO services to them, thus helping to deliver a first class service to their clients,” he comments.
According to Krainer, clients across Europe are starting to see increased levels of activity, and this increase has enabled Primus to win a number of new clients in their local market. The company now has a staff of thirteen, including a number of technical specialists. Krainer’s major current project is developing Primus’s parts procurement business.
“Sourcing aircraft parts for our clients has worked extremely well for us and has proved to be a profitable business both for us and for the clients. We are often able to save them considerable sums, while finding hard-to-get parts for older aircraft, or sourcing parts faster than could be procured through standard distribution channels,” he comments. The parts department at Primus, which is growing in size and staff, are able to add value for clients in a number of ways, including providing them with advice and saving the client significant sums on new and pre-owned parts.
“We are very much a business-to-business provider. We see ourselves as the good guys, by which I mean that we are quite happy to provide advice without necessarily looking to
charge the client. It is enough for us to build the relationship and to demonstrate that we are here for them and can help them across a range of issues,” he comments, adding: “The whole idea is to keep building our relationships in the sector and not to take the position of a lawyer who charges his clients for every email! We work hard to get our clients to know that if they want anything, we are there for them.”
Primus’s parts department sources parts from all round the world, often finding quality parts in places clients would never think to look. “It often happens, for example, that an aircraft is sold with, say, spare wheels as an extra, that never get used and end up cluttering up someone’s hangar. We source our parts at brilliant prices and we share this with our clients,” Krainer comments.
Sometimes it makes more economic sense, without compromising the aircraft’s air worthiness, to repair a component rather than replacing it. “Where this is an option we see that the part is repaired properly for a fraction of the cost of a part exchange. But that needs someone who can take control of the job and see it through carefully. You need specialist skills for this and we have the people in-house who can manage this for the client. Smaller operators will just not have the spare capacity or the in-house expertise available to do this, so again, we are able to add real value,” he notes.
Primus does not get involved directly in aircraft purchases for clients. As Krainer observes, business aviation already has more than enough competent aircraft brokers already. However, the team provide a range of services to clients and operators who are in the process of buying or selling jets, including carrying out aircraft appraisals and pre-buy inspections.
Running a lean operation means that everyone Primus hires has to have both the technical skills and the right attitude and mind set to fit in with the Primus culture and approach. “It can take a good while to find the right person when we are recruiting. If you are just in it for the salary, you are not the right person for us. We have a passion for aviation and for providing the highest quality service possible. If someone has that attitude, then they will fit right in. We are a very tightly knit team of aviation enthusiasts who are nuts about aircraft, and we are all more like family than work colleagues,” he concludes.