One-on-One with Krimson Aviation
With bases in Ethiopia and Malta, Krimson offers a full range of services tailored to the business aviation sector. To learn more about the company, its services, and the state of business aviation in Africa, we sat down with company CEO and Founder Dawit Lemma.
EBAA: What is the state of business aviation in Africa?
Lemma: The overall perception of business aviation in the region has changed. There is now a better understanding of how it can complement commercial travel and feed passengers to regional airlines rather than compete with them. Business aviation has also become a serious and, in many cases, a necessary tool for growth and success on the continent. On top of foreign investment, we are seeing African High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) invest more in local businesses, and they constantly need efficient transport that leaves on time and does not depend on connections through major hubs. Business aviation checks all the boxes.
It has often been said that Africa was too fragmented and lacked the necessary infrastructure needed to support a vibrant business aviation sector. Is this true?
One element that has played a key role in the development of aviation in the region is the change in government perception of and interaction with the industry. At one point, every country had their own regulations and standards, which made travelling within Africa a logistical nightmare. Although it can still be a challenge, governments are finally seeing the value of private aviation. The growth of the economy is now transcending politics in most countries, and we can come together to find common solutions to accelerate growth for everyone.
The investment in aviation infrastructure is further evidence of this new way of thinking. We are beginning to see the start of projects for new build FBOs and airports. In addition, many local FBOs are now aiming to work using internationally recognised standards to help align Africa with the rest of the aviation world. Managing customer expectations is crucial to our continued success and where we can establish international standards, this will create strong foundations for future growth.
How is Krimson Aviation serving this evolving African market?
We offer a full range of business aviation services, starting with delivering bespoke charter and leasing solutions. We also offer flight support and trip planning solutions focusing on safety, customer service, and operational efficiencies, as well as MRO and ground support services that are comprehensive, flexible, and affordable for operators in the region. And, with more international businesses exploring commercial activities in Africa, we started offering consulting services to support best practices in flight operations.
Beyond Ethiopia, we are focusing on serving the entire African continent. Currently, we are developing our profile in 10 countries, including familiar business aviation nations and emerging markets where positive signs of business aviation growth are showing, and we aim to be part of it.
You often speak about the importance of diversity. Can you elaborate on that?
Having attended Purdue University in the USA, as a visible minority, I was very aware of the power of diversity and the necessity and benefits of including different backgrounds and cultural and social viewpoints into business decisions.
Aviation, for the most part, is very culturally conservative and is slow to change when it comes to progress outside the actual aircraft. So, when I started Krimson Aviation in Addis Ababa, I made it a point to be the change I wanted to see in our industry.
I believe that having a diverse executive team is one of our strengths as it allows us to see situations from different perspectives and enables us to establish unique solutions to our issues. Our board now consists of a 50/50 mix of men and women, and it has had an immensely positive impact on the success of our business.
One last note here, I think diversity is particularly important in developing markets because you are not only helping develop the industry in the region, you’re also developing a local homegrown workforce that are likely to stay within the region and push the next generation of aviators forward.
How has the African market been impacted by the pandemic?
Although the pandemic presented many challenges, in our experience, it also presented a lot of opportunities – including an opportunity to continue to position business aviation as a key driver for economic development. Specifically, the pandemic really highlighted how business aviation can provide transport for seemingly impossible to connect locations and, owing to its versatility, flexibility, and immediate capabilities, how it can step up to fulfill difficult, urgent, or complex requests.
For Krimson, the silver lining was the chance to demonstrate how we can bring economic value and promote growth in the region with the unique benefits and capabilities of private flight. With a newfound interest in business aviation, African executives and the increasing number of HNWIs across the continent are recognising all that the industry – and Krimson in particular – has to offer.