Avia Solutions Group (ASG), the world’s largest ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) provider, with a service center in Lithuania, has been relying – and furthermore, driven – by a stellar lineup of women, who not only are successfully steering the multinational Group in the extremely competitive avia market, but also are making a big social change to it, bringing gender diversity and empowering women. “Gender diversity remains a significant issue in the aviation industry. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 airlines, only three percent of top leadership roles in the industry are held by women. Locatory.com has taken its steps to eliminate any gender gap within the company,” Toma Matutyte, Chief Executive Officer at locatory.com, part of ASG, told The Baltic Times Magazine.
Locatory.com brings together various businesses within aviation industry, including airlines, carriers, MROs, distributors, resellers, manufacturers, and ground handling companies. The platform simplifies the procurement process by providing access to a vast inventory of aircraft parts from a global network of suppliers. Locatory.com’s marketplace also provides manufacturers, distributors, and resellers with access to a global network of potential customers, expanding their sales reach.
How did you end up being in Avia Solutions Group and Locatory.com? With the job you have, would it be right to say that your dream came true?
Avia Solutions Group is the world’s largest ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) provider, with a service center in Lithuania. I always believed that working in Lithuania is convenient because you do not have to change your place of residence. I would say, if you wish to make such a change in your career, namely, to enter the aerospace industry, it can be a strategic move. I had many acquaintances in the aviation sector, and many people working there described it as enjoyable, entrancing, and extremely exciting. After a long career in the finance sector, I decided to start a new chapter in my career, and this start was in aviation. In 2021, directly after COVID, it was a much different experience.
It was a new field to me, and I was excited to meet so many new people and professionals. So, I am happy, and that's why my dream has come true. Seeing the clients, I understood the scope, size, and depth of it all. I quickly realized that working in aviation was not only convenient but also filled with endless opportunities for growth and learning. The diverse range of clients and partners I encountered allowed me to truly grasp the vastness and complexity of the industry. It was a refreshing change from my previous career in finance and credit management, and I felt invigorated by the new challenges that awaited me in this unfamiliar field.
What do you find being unique about the Group and the company?
Avia Solutions Group and its subsidiaries stand out in the aviation industry for several distinct reasons. Firstly, the company boasts a diversified business portfolio, engaging in various aviation-related sectors. This strategic diversification not only mitigates risks but also allows the company to capitalize on opportunities within the industry. Another defining feature is Avia Solutions Group's global reach and extensive presence, with over 100 offices and production facilities in more than 68 countries. This expansive network enables the company to cater to airlines and customers on a global scale, providing a notable competitive advantage. Strategic partnerships with leading organizations further strengthen Avia Solutions Group's position in the aviation industry. These collaborations enable the company to offer comprehensive and innovative solutions to its customers.
In terms of technology, Avia Solutions Group takes an innovative approach by pioneering the development and utilization of cutting-edge solutions for the aviation sector. Subsidiaries like Sensus Aero or AeroTime Hub are at the forefront of technological advancements, positioning the company as a leader in the industry. Customer satisfaction is a paramount focus for Avia Solutions Group, evident in its dedicated "customer-first" approach. The company strives to understand and address customer needs, fostering enduring relationships and building a strong industry reputation.
The workforce at Avia Solutions Group is a key asset, comprising highly skilled and experienced professionals across diverse business units. The company's commitment to employee development and growth contributes to a robust workforce and positive work culture. Financially, Avia Solutions Group has a track record of strong performance, showcasing its effective business management and growth capabilities. This financial strength provides stability and facilitates investments in future growth initiatives.
Locatory.com, a part of Avia Solutions Group, has pleasantly surprised me.
In the challenging world of aviation, during unprecedented times for the entire world, especially, the aerospace industry, it was truly breathtaking to witness extremely dedicated professionals striving to endure and improve our product every day. It was also very exciting to observe businesses in such a competitive sector helping each other, not only in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic but consistently.
Locatory.com, like many other businesses in the sector, is at the forefront of the most positive changes within the aerospace industry. This industry is poised to become more efficient and sustainable each day, bringing more value to other aviation businesses. Behind these advancements is a highly motivated team that shares common values and possesses a great passion for what we do.
Our customers already use Locatory.com not only when searching for a specific part by its number but also to be part of the global aviation community. Here, businesses connect, make valuable contacts, and make timely and informed decisions, which aren’t always directly related to aircraft parts procurement. Our platform also helps businesses effectively manage their inventory and address time-critical situations, such as aircraft-on-ground scenarios or take advantage of our dedicated shipping service. We are also known for offering manufacturing capabilities, a wide range of chemicals, and have our own line of engine stands leasing. Under our brand EngineStands.com, we have acquired stands for a wide variety of aircraft engines and lease such stands directly to our clients when their engines need transportation, maintenance, or storage.
The COVID pandemic and especially war in Ukraine sent shockwaves through the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) sector, creating a dire need for quick and sometimes unconventional supply chain solutions to counteract the impact. How much harder has your daily managerial life in the office become?
I joined Locatory.com just over two years ago, directly after the entire COVID-19 crisis. The first thing I noticed was the industry's rapid recovery, marked by booming demand and the overall struggle to meet it. Consequently, our work became directly focused on addressing issues within the global aviation supply chains. The increased complexity of the supply chain has compelled us to be more proactive in identifying and mitigating potential risks, as well as more flexible in our approach to problem-solving.
Upon my arrival at Locatory.com, taking the lead in the aftermath of near-zero demand during the pandemic, the team comprised of only a few people. Fast forward to today, and we now boast a team of more than fifty professionals. It has been an intense journey, one that I was glad to undertake, and I am eagerly anticipating the new opportunities that lie ahead.
Can you recall concrete cases demonstrating to what extent you had to go to obtain necessary aircraft parts?
Aircraft-on-ground or AOG situations are very time-sensitive scenarios, and that’s where a robust and responsive setup, such as the one we maintain, is needed. Our approach involves leveraging our broad network within the marketplace and extending beyond it. In specific instances, the urgency of an AOG situation pressed us to go to great lengths to source essential aircraft parts promptly.
Furthermore, addressing the workforce shortage involves strategic initiatives aimed at mitigating the impact on operations within the aviation industry. These initiatives include the implementation of training programs, strategic recruitment efforts, and collaborations with external partners to optimize resources.
The utilization of networks outside the marketplace has proven to be a valuable strategy in overcoming challenges associated with AOG situations. By tapping into unconventional sources and forming partnerships beyond the conventional scope, we have successfully addressed the intricacies of obtaining aircraft parts promptly and efficiently.
What sets Locatory.com apart from competitors in the market? What are the core values of your team?
Locatory.com is positioning itself as the one-stop-shop for all-aviation-related products, not only aircraft parts but also services, equipment, consumables, and more. It defines us and lets us stand apart from other aviation marketplaces, as we cater to virtually every business within aviation. What’s more, Locatory.com prioritizes understanding and addressing the specific needs of its customers. It conducts thorough regular customer feedback to ensure its solutions align with real-world challenges.
Our well-aligned team is also at the core of our success as I focus on individuals who consistently deliver at 100 percent. It is related to the fact that my eventual objective is to have an environment where every team member can reach their maximum potential.
The brightest individuals in our team demonstrate not only professional competency but also essential qualities such as positivity, engagement, and a sense of care. These attributes contribute significantly to the overall synergy of our team. As we work collaboratively toward the goal of delivering at least 100 percent, at Locatory.com, we are cultivating a culture of continuous improvement. This journey is not only about achieving excellence but also about developing a positive and supportive work environment that encourages every team member to deliver.
What are the biggest MRO challenges in the market right now that Locatory.com helps to solve? I understand the shortage of titanium is one of them?
The COVID-19 pandemic's sudden plunge in air travel demand caused a severe disruption in the aviation industry's supply chain. Production halts, staff reductions, and port congestion contributed to a significant inventory deficit. As demand recovered more rapidly than anticipated, the industry was unprepared, unable to meet the surging demand for spare parts and essential materials.
The global semiconductor shortage, a crucial component in various aircraft systems, further exacerbated the situation. This scarcity, driven by increased demand from various industries, has lengthened lead times and increased costs for aviation manufacturers.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has also had a knock-on impact, disrupting the supply of raw materials like nickel, palladium, and titanium, which are indispensable for aircraft manufacturing. Additionally, sanctions imposed on Russia have further hindered supply chains, affecting the availability of various components.
Despite these challenges, there have been some positive developments. Both the availability and price of raw materials have improved significantly. Nickel prices reached a two-and-a-half-year low at the end of November, demonstrating a substantial decline of 45% since the beginning of the year, attributable to abundant supply from leading producers Indonesia and China.
Similarly, titanium supply has not reached the severe shortages that the industry had anticipated as the growing shortage of titanium was already foreseen for years as the demand for titanium products is rising very fast and the global pandemic has also had its impact. During those years, many players within the industry, namely, smaller Western-based producers of titanium products, have fallen out of the market as major aerospace manufacturers allegedly stockpiled Russian-made titanium products at competitive prices, contributing to this trend. This development led the Russian VSMPO-Avisma Corporation, the world's largest vertically integrated producer of titanium and titanium alloy products, to further dominate the global market. However, the onset of the war in Ukraine last year has underscored the need for alternative suppliers of aerospace-grade titanium.
The current state of affairs has compelled manufacturers to reduce their dependence on Russian-made titanium products, although achieving this is easier said than done. Locatory.com plays its role in providing the industry with relevant answers to the problem by actively expanding its scope both geographically as well as in terms of suppliers and aviation-related parts and assets. That way, more businesses can connect through our marketplace and extend the scope of their operations, finding alternative suppliers, which, in turn, are able to quickly establish their market presence.
What are the biggest challenges you face working in the aviation industry? How are you getting over them?
When I came to Locatory.com, I found myself at the helm of an industry that is both challenging and endlessly fascinating. The aviation sector is very dynamic, and it continues to be so even after the pandemic. Yet, I would say that it truly presents an excess of opportunities for those who are willing to go all the way through the challenges it offers, and that’s what I like about it.
One of the most significant challenges in the aviation sector is the continuous evolution of technology. Rapid advancements in aircraft design and manufacturing demand that you always keep your hand on the pulse, especially when you are working with aircraft and parts manufacturers, maintenance service providers, and those in need for these parts and services, such as airlines and other aircraft operators. The pandemic initially led to a sharp decline in air travel, prompting airlines to retire older aircraft. However, as the demand for air travel has rebounded strongly, airlines are now keeping their older planes in service for longer. This is due to the shortage of new aircraft, the rising cost of spare parts, and the need to maintain a reliable fleet.
We are actively participating in global events, where we now have the chance to meet industry leaders and address these issues together. COVID-related travel restrictions have been lifted, aircraft manufacturers are increasing their production targets, and demand is back. However, the whole COVID situation has left us with a lot of issues we have yet to solve, including the massive surge in demand and consequently, all the related supply chain issues.
Does being a woman CEO in the highly competitive aviation industry help you or, well, sometimes not?
Gender diversity remains a significant issue in the aviation industry. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 airlines, only 3% of top leadership roles in the industry are held by women. Some companies see it as a regulatory or social responsibility, while others view it as a crucial factor for staying competitive. Despite this, the aviation sector still struggles with one of the lowest levels of gender balance, especially in leadership positions.
Yet, there is a genuine consensus within the industry that increasing diversity is exceptionally helping the whole sector become increasingly competitive – that is also true for specific businesses within the aviation industry. Living and working in the aviation industry, we understand the inherent need for flexibility to address the challenges that constantly arise.
It is well-established that a diverse workforce, inclusive of various genders, brings a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and approaches. Locatory.com has taken its steps to eliminate any gender gap within the company. Here, both me and my team believe that achieving gender equality is the foundational step towards creating a workplace that truly values and leverages diversity.
How do you keep in shape, mental and physical, to maintain the sharpness and precision in a decision making? Do you have any daily rites you follow?
Discipline and routine are very important, and I set clear rules and expectations. Consistency in my daily activities and work hours improves my time management.
Building personal relationships with my team is crucial, and through open communication, we foster trust, which is very important in such dynamic and competitive environment. Understanding each team member personally creates a positive work atmosphere, which I value very much and prioritize in this company. To manage risks effectively, I ensure my team has diverse skills. Everyone should understand, manage, and mitigate uncertainties along with potential dangers within their expertise.
I also embrace opportunities for growth. Being adaptable and open to change allows me to navigate challenges successfully. In a nutshell, focusing on physical and mental well-being, maintaining discipline, building strong personal connections, effective risk management, and adaptability help me stay sharp in decision-making.
What do you expect from 2024?
The aviation industry is on a fast track to recovery, and the trend expected to continue into 2024 is that new aircraft production targets are increasing, and older aircraft are being retained longer. This will have a positive impact on the aviation aftermarket, as used serviceable parts will become more readily available, easing pressure on the supply chain.
As a result of this trend, the aviation aftermarket is expected to experience a period of relief. Used serviceable parts will become more abundant, which will help to lower costs and improve the availability of components. This will benefit airlines and other aircraft operators, as well as MRO providers, among others.
The record-breaking backlog of new aircraft orders is not necessarily something as bad as it may sound; it is a generally positive sign for the aviation aftermarket. This indicates that airlines are confident in the future of air travel and are willing to invest in new fleets. This will further increase the demand for used serviceable parts, which will help to support the growth of the aftermarket industry.
And what is next for Locatory.com with you as the head?
We have our distinct direction, which is very clear – our company aims to become a leading player in the sector by offering comprehensive solutions for all aviation aftermarket-related demands. Basically, our goal is very clear: Locatory.com as the one-stop-shop for all aviation-related needs. As an aviation parts marketplace, we started our operations in order to fulfil industry’s necessities related to online aircraft parts procurement. Now we are here to satisfy a wide range of the needs of businesses within the sector, as our partners, using our marketplace, can easily find not only parts, but assets, services, consumables, equipment, and many more.