BY CHRONICLE STAFF
Tay Kok Khiang is optimistic about Latin America. As president of Singapore-based ST Aerospace, Asia's biggest plane-maintenance company, he is seeing firsthand the growing demand for the firm’s services through its three-year old Panama facility.
“The Panama facility is performing well,” he says. “It has managed to consistently redeliver aircraft on time and with quality to customers, and has steadily built a strong track record for the maintenance of narrow body aircraft, where more than 60 aircraft have been redelivered to date.”
ST Aerospace created its Panama unit, Panama Aerospace Engineering, in 2006 and started operations the following year. “As Panama is advantageously located between North and South America, it is recognized as an important transportation and shipping hub in the continent,” Tay points out. “Thus, we feel it is an ideal location for an MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] operation.”
The four-hangar facility can accommodate 12 narrow-body aircraft simultaneously. In addition to serving Panamanian flag carrier Copa, one of Latin America’s most successful airlines, the Panama facility can also boast local business from GECAS, Transaero Airlines, AerCap, AWAS and more.
Soon, Singapore will also be known locally for its port services. PSA International, the world’s second-largest container terminal operator, will be competing with Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, the world’s largest operator for container traffic that goes through Panama.
PSA is building a terminal at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, right across from the Port of Balboa, which is operated by Hutchison unit Panama Ports Company. It expects to open the terminal, located at what once was a US Naval station, next year.
The current and future business generated by ST Aerospace and PSA is helping cement Panama as Singapore’s top trading partner in Latin America. Singapore’s trade with Panama is twice as large as its second-largest trade partner in Latin America, Brazil.
Last year, Singapore’s total trade with Panama grew by 59.6 percent to 9.2 billion Singapore dollars (US$6.6 billion), according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of IE Singapore data. While Singapore exports still dominate the ...
Keywords: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Latin Asia Business Forum, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela