expanding the portfolio Having established its presence in the UAE, Airolink has been expanding its portfolio since 2012.
“It was very challenging, everything was promised, but I felt that there was going to be problems – people were talking about millions, but they didn’t have a single penny in their pocket” was able to expand operations to Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, working for the Americans armed forces. However, as market conditions calmed down, new opportunities were opening for the contractor. “We were doing civil orientated projects inside the base and we suddenly got an inquiry from Abu Dhabi Municipality – there was a big tunnel being constructed in Abu Dhabi and they were stuck with contractors, so we got an inquiry about doing some huge diaphragm walls. We were doing taxi bases at the time – heavy concrete works – and we were good at it. “So, we enquired with Samsung C&T [the main contractor] and they gave us a project. That’s how we came out from the base and into local projects. We were very careful in how we dealt with people. When we moved out of the base, suddenly people were coming to us and talking about doing towers and this and that. We didn’t touch any of those areas – we came out on a mission, and we wanted to finish that.” Only after they had successfully completed that project did Pillai and his team look at the opportunities in the market and conduct in-depth 20 February 2018
research into where they might be able to best succeed. “There were a huge number of projects that people were talking about, both residential and commercial. We did our research about what was the exact market we wanted to cater for. There was a huge demand for schools at the time. Dubai was very shabby at the time – there wasn’t much work, people were bankrupt and most of the construction and material supply companies were putting up notices.
“On the other hand, we thought that Abu Dhabi was a silent market. We enquired there about what was a good market – residential was one, but could we do residential? We looked at government projects, which were good, but then we thought, what about the education sector?” This led to the start of the contractor becoming known as the go-to firm for the construction of educational facilities, with several projects under their belt and currently underway. The first
ready for delivery Airolink intends to deliver a variety of projects worth a total of $190.5 million over the course of 2018.
was a design and build project that allowed the firm to showcase itself at the ministry level, Pillai says. “The concept for the project was good and the ministry was very happy with us. We got the green light from all the departments involved. In fact, we made a big noise at the ministry level, across all the departments, because in 93 days we finished phase one of the project. We gave them an exact construction plan and schedule, we guided the client throughout the process – telling them not to