Respected Aviation leaders merge for greater good
Three leaders in aviation, Johan Heine (co-CEO of Kishugu), Charlie Marais (owner of Westline Aviation) and Chris Briers (new CEO of merged company), after finding enough common ground regarding aspirations and challenges, have in principle, agreed on a merger – giving new meaning to the concept of synergy. This follows meticulous negotiations on how a merge would benefit clients and shareholders alike.
Kishugu’s Aviation division and Westline Aviation had to amalgamate, which led to the merge. This move further enhances safety (particularly flight safety), compliance and good governance, which gives the South African Aviation fraternity the national and international credit it deserves.
Within the next three months the diversity in aviation services in the merging companies will be streamlined; core functions will be focused on and a common DNA will be established and rolled out. The official launch is planned for 06 April 2017, when the new entity, serving Kishugu Holdings and Westline Aviation, will be announced as the Westline Aviation Group.
The individual core functions such as aerial firefighting, aviation ab initio (own flight training) and advanced training, as well as other aerial work, including all facets of fixed wing and helicopter part 127 and 135 operations, will be coordinated and placed under focused managers.
The collective capability in fuel supply and distribution, maintenance organisations (AMO) and safety training will become part of the new synergetic strategy moving forward. The appointment of Chris Briers as the CEO of Westline Aviation Group, will see the fusing together of aircraft sales, international contracts, firefighting, freight and many other fields in which the company will diversify due to internal capability in regional and international bonds.
Within management, safety and compliance will be taken to the next level and will be focused on “bottom-up” compliance and risk management culture. Operational managers in the different divisions will be accountable to the CEO, who in turn will report to the group board, which will be assembled through appointments made by the main shareholders.
The tone set by the new CEO is one of an excellence approach. “With Johan’s firefighting experience and Charlie’s training, safety and maintenance expertise, we aim to be regarded as the leading aviation company in South Africa,” says Briers. His focus will be on implementing a hands-on safety management structure, accompanied by accountability at all levels as structures are established and tested for fully integrated operations by the first of April this year.
“Although the merger expands the scope of the business, the aerial firefighting will continue unchanged under Kishugu Aviation with the same management structure as a department,” says Heine.
The amalgamation phase has started in earnest. Initially, the main functionary lines will continue under the various licences and contracts, with very little to change in day to day operations. The new company, although sharing many expertise, will make no employees redundant. “On the contrary, quite a few new posts will be created, not only to maintain market share, but to grow the business in a prioritised manner,” says Briers.
Westline and Kishugu will each continue to represent quality, honesty, capability and expansion through its well-known and respected safety culture and disciplined approach to aerial work. As both companies are synonymous with professionalism at all levels, both brands will continue the good work and increase their position in the industry with the new merging entities.
The tripod think tank so established, as well as the visionary approach and result orientation of Heine, Marais and Briers, will see the aviation landscape change during the next phase to the benefit of all.