DUBAI: LHT eyes airframe MRO in Middle East

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Lufthansa Technik expects base maintenance to become a key growth driver in the Middle East and would consider setting up a facility in the region with a local partner.

As fleets grow and existing aircraft are maturing, local airlines – including Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways – will need base maintenance capacity beyond their own facilities, says LHT chief executive August Wilhelm Henningsen. Long-haul aircraft could undergo heavy checks in Asia, where labour rates are also lower than in the Middle East. However, LHT does not rule out establishing base maintenance operations in the region, Henningsen says.

Back in 2009, LHT signed a tentative agreement with Oman Air to set up an MRO joint venture at Muscat International by 2012. The facility was due to conduct maintenance up to light C-checks for Airbus A330s and Boeing 737s as well as Embraer and ATR regional aircraft, but the project never materialised. LHT says that the partnership has been put “on hold” as circumstances on both sides changed.

This has not deterred LHT from potential other partnerships in the region. “We will not build a hangar and then look for customers to fill it,” says Henningsen. Any commitment to establishing facilities will thus depend on local demand. But if enough business can be secured through a potential partnership, Henningsen says that LHT would establish base maintenance operations in the Middle East. “We are ready to invest,” he says.