DFS Aviation Services in Bahrain

Moritz Manzel and Andreas Pötzsch / Managing Directors

As part of the DFS Group, DAS can rely on the expert knowledge, technical expertise and highest quality in standards.

Could you give our readers some background on DFS Aviation Services as a global company?

DFS Aviation Services GmbH (DAS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS), the German air navigation service provider (ANSP). DAS is a certified ANSP, provides air traffic services at regional airports in Germany and markets its ATM products and services worldwide. As part of the DFS Group, DAS can rely on the expert knowledge, technical expertise and highest quality in standards. Its customers include air navigation services providers, airport operators, airlines, civil aviation authorities and government ministries from around the globe. Through its UK subsidiary, Air Navigation Solutions Ltd. (ANSL), DAS is also responsible for the provision of air traffic control services at Edinburgh Airport. In Asia and South-America, DAS maintains representative offices in Beijing, Singapore and Lima. DFS Aviation Services additionally offers turnkey remote tower solutions.

The parent company DFS operates remote towers at Saarbruecken airport and Erfurt airport (regional airports in Germany) and DAS is building a new Remote Tower Centre in Braunschweig/ Lower Saxony for up to eight regional airports. DFS Aviation Services Bahrain Co WLL, the DFS Aviation Services subsidiary in the Middle East, has been responsible for the supply of personnel for Air Traffic Management (ATM) services to the Bahrain CAA since 1 January 2019.

This responsibility also covers ATC operations, standards, training, safety, electronics, engineering and regulatory personnel. DAS Bahrain is also responsible for contributing to the overall development of air navigation services to meet the existing and future challenges in the air navigation field.

What makes DFS Aviation Services different from your competitors?

We operate as a partner at eye-level together with all of our ANSPs, Airports or Airline partners. Our goal is to provide solutions and products that are tailored to our customers’ needs, as we aspire to act jointly with our partners and work together on their challenges and targets.

One of our key assets is the fact that we provide added value by implementing technology which is in-house built and in-house used at the same time. In this industry, it is key to success being an ANSP and not just a supplier. In addition, we have guidelines and principles which do not exist on paper only, as they are always valid and being executed by ourselves.

Could you tell us a little about the DFS Aviation Services operating model?

We are very structured and mainly operate in four core regions worldwide: Europe by nature of our presence here, Asia, Middle East & Africa and Latin America. Within these regions we provide expertise (products and services) in four different fields: Systems & Engineering, Air Traffic Services, Consultancy and Training. All solutions are tailor-made and consider local requirements and needs. We are not just copying ‘The German’ framework, as all our solutions are bespoke turn-key and fully functional.

Could you tell us a little bit about your story, Andreas & Moritz?

Since 2019, DFS Aviation Services Bahrain Co WLL is managed by two Managing Directors; Andreas Pötzsch and Moritz Manzel. Since 1 January 2019, Andreas Pötzsch leads DFS Aviation Services GmbH. Over the previous six years, Pötzsch had been the Director En-route and Approach, the largest operational unit at DFS. Prior to this, the industrial engineer with an MBA in aviation managed the tower division and held various other positions within DFS. Recognized internationally as an aviation manager, Andreas Pötzsch is also involved in international co-operations, such as iTEC and FABEC. Pötzsch was Chairman of the Standing Committee Operation from 2014 to 2017 and since January 2018 has been Chairman of the Network Director Operations Meeting at EUROCONTROL. With a Bachelor’s degree in International Management and a Master’s degree in Service Marketing, Moritz joined DFS Group in 2010 as a Project Manager and Consultant for several aviation / ATC projects throughout the Middle East and was based in that growing region for more than three years. His core expertise is in transition and implementation programs within the aviation industry. In 2018 he was appointed Managing Director for DFS Aviation Services Bahrain Co WLL. At the same time, he is the Acting Regional Manager Middle East & Africa.

Could you tell us a little more about your team?

When thinking about our team and setup we always have one picture in mind which easily explains our values and capabilities: Formula 1 pit stop. Since we took over operations in 2019, we constantly designed and built a team which never leaves passion, performance or professionalism behind. It was always our intention to become a high-

“Our willingness to always walk the extra mile is reflected in our vision: you fly – we care.

performance-team over the last four years and we firmly believe that we have achieved that goal. The evidence for this was a very challenging 2022 including various operational challenges (e.g. post COVID recovery, airspace changes, new systems, special events etc.) which were successfully executed by the whole team.

Could you tell us a little about your management and leadership style?

Both are connected to our team and setup: Full trust in each individual and no micromanagement. Management and leadership are based on deep trust, mutual respect and one joint and very clear goal. We manage and lead in a manner where the expertise of male and female colleagues of 16 different nationalities are transformed into one immensely motivated high-performance team. Our willingness to always walk the extra mile is reflected in our vision: you fly – we care.

Together, we seek beyond the conventional: The indispensable hinge function of air traffic for society and the economy was evident during the corona virus pandemic – with repatriation flights, the transport of medical protective equipment, the distribution of vaccines or the maintenance of value chains. Therefore, it is our joint mission to keep the skies safe and open. The handling of air traffic in a safe, orderly and expeditious manner is our core target and safe and smart skies our responsibility.

Why have you chosen Bahrain as an operations centre?

DFS Group has been active within the Middle East for many years. Based on past projects, service delivery and a very positive future outlook in this region, we took the strategic decision to build up a Company WLL in Bahrain. Bahrain was the first with this requirement and opportunity for us which we are very grateful for.

How have Bahraini Civil Aviation Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation helped?

The continued development of this industry stems from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain. His valuable directives have led to the Kingdom’s pioneering position in the industry.
An example of this is the Bahrain Flight Information Region (BFIR), which is a key factor in facilitating the movement of civil aircraft to and from Europe and the Middle and the Far East. One of the critical success factors in reaching this position has been the skilled Bahraini workforce, with a team of highly qualified air traffic controllers, who have been trained to the highest international standards.

What’s your view on the Bahraini aviation industry in general?

There is huge potential within the Kingdom of Bahrain. Not too long ago, the new terminal was just put into operation at the airport and Gulf Air, the National Carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain was named the World’s Most Improved Airline in 2022 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards in London. The award is a testament to the strategic effort Gulf Air set forth in 2018 to make the airline more customer centric.

Furthermore, the ANSP recently installed a new air traffic management system digitalizing Bahrain’s skies and doubling the country’s flight management capacity. This new control centre will enhance the safety and fluidity of aircraft movements throughout the Arabian Gulf and Peninsula and on key global aviation routes. Therefore, Bahrain is ready for the future and there are new airport expansion plans and ideas already under development.

DFS Aviation Services in general seems to be super-driven by emerging technology. There appears to be a global connectedness to your operations. Could you tell us a little more about this?

We aim to provide expertise that is tested, validated and in operational use in our HQ or own facilities to our partners operating abroad. It is our intention to short cut life cycles of development for our partners which generates huge savings and therefore financial independence. This works very well not only for Bahrain but also for other partners in the UAE and other regions.

What’s your view on the future of ATM operations and how the industry and technology are evolving?

Within the key requirement of fulfilling the highest safety levels, we see great potential in cloud-based services, advanced digitalisation as well as AI. However, very importantly to a large extent all stakeholders (airlines, airports, air traffic control) need to evolve in parallel in order to maintain their interfaces, especially communication.

What are your expansion plans for the Bahraini operation? We are already looking forward to the Bahrain Airshow 2024 which is a unique and special event for all local and international participants. From there onwards we intend to step into the next phase (it’s not been a decade yet) of our service delivery in Bahrain preparing all stakeholders for 2025 and beyond where traffic is anticipated to be higher than ever. Since 2019, DFS Aviation Services’ reputation and brand awareness has grown considerably in the Middle East region. We plan to further strengthen this hard earned reputation and work with our partners in the region in providing innovative and efficient solutions to their challenges. Watch this space, you will hear a lot more about DAS in the Middle East in the coming years.