Outsourcing Options

April 1, 2003

After 25 years, Oxford Airport Technical Services continues to engineer growth through the development of new products and services, writes Michelle Garetson

April 2003One of the best-kept secrets in the aviation ground support equipment service industry is Oxford Airport Technical Services of Elmont, NY. In business since 1976, Oxford was initially created by Anthony P. Dalia, P.E. to design control systems for baggage conveyors. He designed and fabricated electronic control systems to operate baggage handling conveyors. Dalia, who worked for Pan Am prior to starting Oxford, saw varied niches for maintenance services that were being filled with aircraft maintenance personnel. Today, Oxford ATS is a ground support equipment maintenance and repair services company specializing in passenger boarding bridges, conveyor systems, cargo/material handling systems,
ground support vehicles, GPUs/400hz, and preconditioned air systems. They also provide installation, as well as the three "R's" of refurbishment, removal, and relocation of ground support equipment. Oxford also designs electrical/electronic control panels for bridges and conveyors. In addition to expanding its service offerings, the company has professional and technical personnel at 18 major airports located across the country from New York to California as well as Hawaii.

Dalia explains that contractual maintenance of passenger boarding bridges, baggage system conveyors, and vehicles represent Oxford's core service offerings. "About 17 to 19 percent of maintenance is outsourced by the airlines," he says. "And, we're becoming more involved in the maintenance of cargo handling systems."

Bob Cullen, Executive Vice President and COO of Oxford adds, "We do substantial 'non-routine' work for other airlines and we have contracts with Airport Authorities across the country.

Oxford not only offers preventative maintenance programs, but corrective maintenance, and emergency maintenance as well.

CARGO HANDLING EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE One of the growth areas for Oxford has been that of securing contracts for the maintenance of cargo handling equipment. Oxford performs the maintenance on the cargo handling systems at Japan Airlines (JAL) and Korean Air Cargo. Akira Fujioka,
Manager, Material Handling System for JAL, and Oxford's System Engineer, Anthony Etergineoso, work together to monitor several computers linked to the cargo handling equipment in the terminal. At any sign of trouble, they can dispatch maintenance help to fix the problem and get operations back on track.

"A high percentage of problems on the pallet movers are caused by paper and plastic gumming up the sensors," explains Etergineoso. He continues, "There are 19 PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) that hold the code for each machine that moves cargo."

Dalia explains that the industrial computer came on the scene in 1976 and the PLC is still in use today to enhance automation performance of the equipment. He adds that Oxford supports PLC programming for all manufacturers and models.

FUTURE GROWTH "In 1999, I realized that I had basically taken the company as far as I could on my own," explains Dalia. "I wanted to be able to attract more clients, but knew a small company wasn't as appealing as one with a global reach. I set out to find companies interested in an acquisition." In order to achieve his development targets, Dalia sold
the business to an equity partner which owned ground handling company, Worldwide Flight Services.

In Sept. 2001, the Vinci Group, a global construction, concession, and associated services company, acquired Worldwide Flight Services and Oxford ATS in order to reinforce its positions in the airport services business.

"Vinci can offer us a wide range of capabilities due to its size and strength," Dalia says, adding that Oxford is only in the U.S. right now, but it is poised for a global presence through its parent company, Vinci .

When asked about 9/11's impact on business, Oxford's VP of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service, John Moore answers, "If anything, Sept. 11 opened the door for increasing our business. Everyone went into repair and refurbish mode and many of the airlines began laying off employees, which made outsourcing of services look more attractive."

"We have several long-term contracts with Aviation Authorities," says Dalia. "They have always been our customers because they don't want to or can't do the work themselves on passenger boarding bridges and baggage system conveyors. Airlines were a tough nut to crack because they've always had people to do the work. Things are different today. They are concentrating on their core business, which is flying airplanes, and looking to see where they can outsource various tasks and services."

Paul Dalia, Vice President of IT Systems for Oxford, explains that Oxford monitors the computer control systems for the baggage conveyors at JFK's Terminal 6. "We have 5 lines here and average about 6,000 to 8, 000 bags a day. Christmas can bring around 12,000 bags per day. We perform complete refurbishing of baggage systems and did so at the Terminal 6 facility."

John Paterakis is Manager of Terminal 6 for Oxford and adds that the JetBlue boarding bridges, formerly owned by TWA at Terminal 6, were also refurbished by Oxford.

In 1997, Oxford opened a Refurbishment Center in Farmingdale, NY to refurbish used equipment such as 400 Hz GPUs, conveyors, and boarding bridges for resale.

One of Oxford's engineers, Valeriy Perlyuk, developed a new program for cargo rollers that had been ruined by the use of the wrong type of oil. His idea saved the airline money on wear and tear of equipment, as well as lowering the cost of maintenance.

"We have been able to find good people through the airlines, they understand the business. For some of our work, we hire millwrights and iron workers through local union halls," offers Bob Cullen. He explains that Oxford personnel are subject to the same security screening as airline and airport employees - background
checks and fingerprinting - in order to receive airport I.D.

Probably the biggest challenge facing the company is handling the growth it has seen in the last few years. "We've been growing since the mid-1990's, around 30 percent per year in revenues," says Tony Dalia.

According to Dalia, his clients are realizing that they should be focusing on their core business and should outsource anything that is not their core business. He also predicts that one services supplier will handle many locations.

Given that Oxford has been busy with the development of services, new locations, and existing customers, it is not surprising that they are not on a lot of radar screens. However, at this pace, they no doubt will be appearing soon.

OXFORD Airport Technical Services
474 Meacham Ave., Elmont, N.Y. 11003
1-800-OXFORD8 o Fax -516-775-2552
E-mail - service@oxford1.com or www.oxfordats.com