Aeroman evaluates move into widebody MRO

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El Salvadoran MRO provider Aeroman is preparing for an ownership change following the bankruptcy of its Canadian sister operation, Aveos Fleet Performance, one year ago. The move comes as its own business continues growing facilities and capabilities.

The narrowbody airframe maintenance specialist was "not at all" affected by Aveos' closure in March 2012 and subsequent part-sale, says Ernesto Ruiz, Aeroman's chief executive.

Aveos predecessor Air Canada Technical Services acquired 80% of Aeroman from El Salvador's Grupo TACA in 2007. But Aeroman remained a legally and financially independent company while the shareholding transferred to Aveos' Luxembourg-registered parent Aero Technical Support & Services Holdings.

Now, however, preparations are under way to sell the stake to new owners. Ruiz expects this to be completed by August and says it will likely involve a private equity investor.

The long-term growth strategy will depend on the new owners. But Ruiz says that his team is already studying whether to build a fifth hangar, with the formal planning phase due to begin after the share transaction.

The new facility will have four bays - one more than the latest hangar that was opened in April 2012 - which would increase capacity by 36% to 15 narrowbody maintenance lines.

This will take the current, approximately 2,200-strong workforce to around 3,000 staff members.

But capabilities for additional aircraft types will be necessary to fill the new space. Aeroman supports Airbus A320s and Boeing 737-300/400/500s. Heavy checks for the latter type take longer than for the A320s, says Ruiz. But the venerable 737s will be phased out and replaced with aircraft with slimmer heavy maintenance regimes, thus freeing up capacity in addition to the new hangar.

The MRO provider is therefore evaluating whether to add MRO capabilities for current-generation 737s, 757s, Embraer 190 regional jets or even to enter widebody terrain with the A330, says Ruiz.

The latest 737 generation would be particularly promising due to the large existing fleet in North America, he adds. Around 80% of Aeroman's custom stems from the northern continent. However, the narrowbody is also one of the main drivers of Latin American's airline growth.

The decision about new capabilities is to be made in the "next couple of months", says Ruiz.