What is the scope of Zetro Aerospace Corporation’s activities?

ZAMRI: Zetro Aerospace Corporation started about 30 years ago, once Malaysia felt the need to develop its own in-country capabilities in aerospace. The number of aircraft was rising and the country was lacking the facilities to repair and maintain the avionic components and the radars. Therefore, Zetro’s primary focus is to improve the development in avionics capabilities and ground based radar. The ground based radar covers from air traffic control radars to the air defence long range radars. We are still persuading these two main areas.

ZAC provides various services through its subsidiaries. Which lines present the biggest potential for growth?

ZAMRI: The radar industry is very important for the future because it manages the country’s airspace. The sovereignty of the nation relies on the radar technology available. Thus, radar capabilities and development are essential. Currently, Zetro is concentrating on the air traffic aspect of it in terms of traffic management and air defence. We could foresee the rapid growth of this particular line in the future.

How competitive are Malaysia’s defence and aerospace industries?

ZAMRI: If we were to compare with the world’s market, Malaysia with its local capabilities captures a very competitive price. We have established human resources capabilities and expertise. Nevertheless, to reach fully developed technological capabilities will take some time. Once we develop our capabilities, we should be able to address all the previous challenges. Furthermore, the country’s defence industry will become more competitive based on the equipment available. At this moment, Malaysia still needs to import the required technology. We need to work closely with other countries, not only to secure the equipment, but also to develop new capabilities. I strongly believe that alliances should be further explored in order to build proper networking with correct partners in order to develop our own national industry.

What is your overall growth projection for the fields of ground electronics and avionics?

ZAMRI: My overall growth projection for the fields of ground electronics and avionics is very good. You can see that the number of the aircraft is increasing. Twenty years ago there were hardly any private jets in Malaysia, but today they are growing rapidly. The number and size of aircraft owned by airlines is also increasing. Furthermore, we have developed a low cost terminal to cater to our local low cost airline, which is developing to be one of the biggest in the world. There is an increase in the number of domestic travelers who prefer to fly. I can foresee a great potential growth in regard to aircraft operations. With the raising amount of aircraft, countries will have to develop their local infrastructure in terms of airports. For the airports they will need radar capabilities to ensure the safety of the airport operations. Currently, at a global level, I believe that the ASEAN region should be the main focus in regard to aerospace as well as defence.

One of the objectives of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) is to strengthen regional defence and security cooperation among ASEAN states with the creation of the ASEAN Defence Industry Collaboration (ADIC). One of the objectives of the ADIC is to reduce annual defence imports to ASEAN countries from $25bn to $12.5bn. What role will Malaysian companies play in capturing this spend?

ZAMRI: I believe it is a very smart idea for Malaysia to be collaborating with its regional neighbors in defence expansion. We can see that each country has the aspirations to develop their own defence industry to ensure and protect their sovereignty. If we are working as a group, we should be able to develop and share the market regionally. For instance, Malaysia has a population of 30m and the total population of the ASEAN region is 600m. Such collaboration will undoubtedly increase the value of the relationship among the countries in the region. To be part of such an alliance, Malaysia has to find a niche market to ensure that all that is produced addresses the needs of the region. Moreover, we should be able to share information and the action plan with neighboring countries. If countries could also find a way to market the technology together, a lot of financial and temporal resources could be saved.

What are Zetro’s growth and expansion plans? Which markets are most promising for future growth opportunities?

ZAMRI: We are looking at developing and maintaining Zetro’s capabilities. Our goal is to improve our operations and maybe develop new products. We are looking for partners who can work with us towards this goal. Today, the West is still the technological leader and we should be able to work along their way. Being self-reliant does not mean that we do not need partners. Zetro is interested in partners, who are willing to share technology andexpertise with the company. Globalization has made it clear that Malaysia needs to work hard to achieve its Vision 2020 to become a developed nation. I do believe that with the right partnerships we will be able to achieve this vision.

I do find that looking at the Eastern bloc countries is very important. It is a known fact that Western Europe and the US are leaders in technology, but Eastern European countries should also be regarded as potential partners. Despite the fact that these countries are slightly behind in their defence capabilities, they are quite cost competitive. I feel that the more we are exposed to technology, the better we will be able to make a comparison. As long as we have the capacity to acquire the equipment, we will have the ability to compare options. Seeing what the alternatives are is very important in acquiring the technology, as well as partnerships. At this particular moment we are still focusing on the European market. Economically this market has been hit quite badly by the recession and present good opportunities. For instance, Zetro acquired a company in the UK a few years back. We feel that it is a good time for us to look for niche companies with good network potential outside Malaysia.  In the next 20 to 30 years the future market for aerospace and defence will be Asia. Based on what I have seen in the past there are a lot of activities and market opportunities in the Middle East. I can foresee that these are good potential areas for our future market expansion.