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Luxembourg, December 17, 2020 – We have decided to interview Marc Hallaert. Marc is Managing Director at BCO Aviation, the specialist in adhesive marking and visual communication for Aviation. He took some time to share his views over the past year and the future of the company.
Note: The interview has been translated from its original version in French.
Interviewer : Hello Marc Hallaert, how is it going at the moment at BCO Aviation?
Marc Hallaert : Good! We are in December and we have started to analyze year 2020. We were able to react and adapt ourselves very quickly to the situation by reworking our procedures, our working methods and our product portfolio.
On the good news side, we recently obtained the “Made In Luxembourg” Label delivered by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. We are therefore proud to be able to highlight this quality guarantee to our customers.
What have been the changes in the way you have been working since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic?
Marc Hallaert : Employee safety is very important, so we organize team rotation at the office. One part of the team works remotely while the other remains available at the office or on the field. As a result, it reduces contact. We can say that we were lucky because we reacted quickly and easily. In fact, our staff was already equipped with the necessary hardware and software, and we were already working on an internal cloud system. We had everything we needed to work serenely as soon as the first measures were announced by the Governments last spring.
How do project priorities have changed, which ones have become the most important?
Marc Hallaert : To begin, we saw an increase in applications for aircraft registrations last Spring. There have been a lot of aircraft changes among operators. Our self-adhesive solutions offer a much faster, more affordable and durable “phase-in-phase-out” flexibility than paint booth marking.
At the same time, we have also been confronted to many projects that have been put on stand-by. On the one hand, some of BCO’s major historical clients froze some projects. On the other hand, some companies like Luxair are doing a lot of communication to put the company in the spotlight and to ensure passenger safety. For example, two aircraft, a B737-800 and a DHC-8 Q400, have each been equipped with an exterior decoration as well as various cabin products such as QR code stickers, safety cards on tray-tables, headrests and antibacterial protection. So, it was a global, integrated campaign. This ultimately reduces the carbon footprint by avoiding disposable consumables such as in-flight magazines or traditional safety cards.
Did the past year allow you to discover new opportunities ?
Marc Hallaert : Yes, these new cabin products, such as stickers that reduce the number of consumables, have allowed us to accelerate the development of products used to protect aircraft staff and passengers. Other related equipment has also been developed, such as “Coronavirus” identification markings for industrial buildings, company administrative centers, airports, etc..
How do you predict the short- and long-term forecasts ?
Marc Hallaert : In the short term, I do not think there is going to be a lot of changes. In my opinion, 2021 is going to be similar to 2020. The virus will still be present despite the vaccines and the companies will not be able to fly as before. BCO Aviation will continue to do everything to help these companies to restore passenger confidence while reducing its carbon footprint.
And all this could last until the end of 2022. In the long term, the situation will only return to normal around 2027. It will take time for all the Aviation industry actors to return to normal activity.
How do you think the projects will change ?
Marc Hallaert : Concerning the different projects, we currently work a lot with Leasing companies because they are still very active. Due to the decreasing liquidity of the airlines, they are no longer able to operate the aircraft themselves. Therefore, we have been working with many lessors these past months.
In addition, low-cost companies are starting to review their Suppliers Lists and are increasingly interested in companies with faster response times. So, we are willing to demonstrate our project management capabilities. And improve this speed of reaction even more, we are working on the EASA PART21J certification. This will allow us to become DOA and to issue certifications.
Thanks to our constantly improving quality, we are currently being referenced by aircraft manufacturers. This is certainly an interesting opportunity for the long term, particularly thanks to our connections in Toulouse (FR) and Asia.
How do you plan to work once the COVID outbreak will be over? Are you going to change your working way?
Marc Hallaert : BCO provides a normal service from its offices in Luxembourg, and we make sure that we stay reactive, both in terms of project management and delivery for our clients. Everything is ready for a quality and efficient takeover.
In addition to this, we have set up a network of representatives abroad. Several countries, mostly in Asia, are almost already back to normal activity and therefore have a growing demand. Having connections with these countries allows us to gain market share in a region of the World where we had little presence before this health crisis.
How did you adapt without attending Trade Fairs and without the usual travel ?
Marc Hallaert : We have tried different virtual Trade Fairs but unfortunately they are not as interesting as real physical Fairs. Online, it is much more complicated to communicate with representatives and participants. Some things are said and done much more easily when you get in direct contact with people.
In terms of travels, these are more than reduced. Even if the costs related to these are reduced, this remains negative because it leads to a reduction of Revenue. Indeed, a well-prepared Show brings in much more than it costs. By the way, we have just learned that the International Paris Air Show was cancelled in 2021.
A word to conclude ?
Marc Hallaert : I believe that companies and businesses that innovate and exit their comfort zone will continue to move forward. Obviously, it is not easy to stay strong in such a situation, but we try our best to bring solutions to our partners and keep our teams motivated.
Note: The interview has been translated from its original version in French (Find the interview in French here).
(© Text and Pictures credits: BCO Aviation)