Clarification: Gulf Air brings MRO in-house

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Gulf Air is not in-sourcing all base maintenance, as we reported on 25 June, but taking over responsibility for line maintenance and technical fleet management from its MRO contractor SIA Engineering.

The Bahraini carrier said in a statement last week that it would in future "undertake base maintenance for its entire fleet completely in-house". But Jamal Hashim, the airline's director of engineering and airworthiness, tells Flightglobal that the move covers only line maintenance up to A checks as well as material, fleet technical and continued airworthiness management.

C checks and heavy maintenance will continue to be provided by external MRO contractors, which are currently performed by SIA Engineering (SIAEC) in Singapore. The technical arm of Singapore Airlines has conducted A checks with its own staff at a Gulf Air hangar at Bahrain International airport.

The first A check to be carried out by Gulf Air staff was scheduled for 27 June. The airline wants to conduct the work on its Airbus A320, A330, A340, Embraer 170 and 190 aircraft as well as 16 ordered Boeing 787s.

How heavy maintenance will be handled in future depends on the further development of Gulf Air's sister MRO company, Gulf Technics. Hashim says that the airline's "vision" is for Gulf Technics to take over heavy maintenance as soon as the latter's facilities are in place. However, the carrier also wants to continue to its partnership with external MRO providers even beyond the current contract period.

Gulf Technics is building a three-bay hangar at Bahrain International airport, which is due to open in 2014. Since last year, it has been providing component support for Gulf Air's Airbus fleet.

Gulf Air says that its move to take line maintenance and fleet technical management in-house is unrelated to Gulf Technics' development.