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Editorial comment – December 2014

Is the worldwide MRO market set for a shake up in the next few years? A number of factors are in play that seem to suggest change is in the pipeline.

As labour costs rise in places like China, US airlines are returning home for their heavy maintenance – as such, a rash of hangar projects have been commissioned, often with help from local or state subsidies. On the other hand, delivery forecasts across the airframe spectrum show that Asia will be a future hot spot. The first move in this market has been made by the Lion Group in Indonesia, with the establishment of Batam Aero Technic – a four-hangar facility at Hang Nadim International Airport – coupled with the signing of a consultancy agreement with CFM International for a planned engine maintenance and overhaul centre.


In Europe, it seems that some well-established companies may be under threat – mainly due to high costs – with some even divesting parts of the business. Meanwhile, AFI KLM E&M have identified the US and China as opportunities for growth, while Lufthansa Technik is moving into Puerto Rico, signing up Spirit Airlines and JetBlue. Such a location is also useful for the Latin American market, which is likewise seeing growth. This has been realised by PEMCO, which has selected Coopesa in Costa Rica as a freighter conversion partner.


In Africa, Ethiopian Airlines is not only expanding its maintenance facilities, but also its Training Academy, in order to produce skilled personnel that can be contracted out to other carriers in the region. In the Middle East and Turkey, it has been suggested that third-party slots will become increasingly scarce as the major players are forced to look after the growing fleets of their parent airlines – could this be a possible reason for the last-minute non-appearance of Etihad Airways Engineering at MRO Europe in Madrid?


As usual, that event proved to be a useful meeting point for the industry. Within the constraints of just two days, the exhibition was inevitably busy, but there was perhaps a more cautious feeling of optimism than last year. Certainly a number of companies have reported that business in 2014 has been at the same level as 2013, with most looking forward to a better 2015.

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