Amanda Jones talks to Alberto Delgado, chief executive officer of World Aviation in Spain, to find out how he juggles multiple roles and responsibilities.
Alberto Delgado’s list of current job titles is as impressive as it is long. He is CEO of World Aviation Flight Academy in Spain, oversees all aviation activity at the Ascari race circuit in Málaga, which includes the development of a heliport and a supply and equipment agreement with Air BP. He also represents Bell Helicopters throughout Spain and Portugal, is overseeing the development of a new heliport in Marbella and is a Captain flying with Spanish airline Iberia.
“I originally qualified as a pilot in San Diego, California, through the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) in the US,” Delgado tells me. “Then I returned to Europe and converted my license to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification, before joining Iberia as a pilot 22 years ago.”
Delgado still serves as a Captain flying on Iberia’s fleet of A320s in a limited capacity, given he has to juggle his time flying as a commercial pilot with so many other roles.
A passion for aviation
When quizzed about where his love of aviation came from, Delgado explains,
“My family are all doctors and pharmacists – however, I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation. As a child, I would go to my local airport almost every day after school finished and just look up into the skies. I could spend hours watching aircraft landing and taking off. I’ve always loved it.” When it comes to managing so many different roles, Delgado says he relies on his team to support him, but he also admits that he “can never say no. I never let an opportunity pass me by.”
Dedicated to comprehensive training for helicopter pilots, airline pilots and professional drone operators, World Aviation has training centres in both Madrid (at Cuatro Vientos – Airport) and Málaga (Málaga Costa Del Sol as well as Axarquia Airport) and also in Catalonia (Girona Airport). It offers private helicopter charters (with a fleet of nine helicopters), MRO facilities, jet broker and aviation consultancy services.
“We cover the whole of the Iberian Peninsula catering for both helicopter and fixed-wing customers. Through World Aviation I also have an agreement with Bell Helicopters as their independent sales representative in Portugal and Spain,” he says.
Of the Ascari Race Circuit near Ronda in Málaga, Spain, Delgado explains that it’s an exclusive location for helicopters.
“It’s the only F1 private resort in the world,” he says explaining it has been designed to indulge the needs of motorsport lovers, as well as to cater to private corporate events and VIP functions. “I’ve been providing my aviation expertise and services there for the last eight years and primarily oversee everything related to aviation safety and security at the racetrack from helicopter ops to refuelling.”
Referencing the collaboration agreement with Air BP to supply fuel at the race circuit as a bulk location, Delgado underlines it’s a relationship that he really values in terms of the support as well as the access to reliable, safe fuel supplies. A new heliport is also being developed at Ascari, which Delgado is overseeing, and hopes will be open in 1.5 years.“I have been working closely with Air BP on that particular project and have really benefitted from their expertise.”
In addition to the heliport at Ascari, Delgado is also working on another heliport development in Marbella on Spain’s Costa del Sol, which is due to open within 2.5 years. However, he agrees that the current coronavirus outbreak has thrown the whole industry into unchartered territory for the time being and some projects are temporarily on hold.
“These are unprecedented times and the coronavirus outbreak is impacting on every business including aviation. Airlines around the world are struggling. We have had to suspend our training services as its impossible to adhere to the social distancing rule within the cockpit whether you’re in a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. These are indeed extraordinary times, but we just have to wait and see what the full impact of coronavirus is and to understand we are all in this together.”
Until earlier this year, Delgado admits he had been seeing steady growth in the demand for training especially for commercial pilots. He also highlights that when he started out in the aviation industry, flying was still considered a luxury form of travel, but now and thanks to the exponential growth of low-cost carriers more and more people are taking to the skies.
“We’re constantly brainstorming as to how we can accommodate this growth in passenger traffic,” he enthuses “and although it’s at a much slower pace than commercial aviation we are also noting a rise in general aviation traffic too.”
While the aviation industry is somewhat in limbo at the moment, Delgado concludes that he’s always looking at how he can move forwards.
“I am growing and learning all the time in my working life. And I am always conscious of how I can collaborate with and give back to those around me – my community, my country, my continent and my industry. Life is a juggle, but I’ll keep looking ahead and moving forward.”