Europe's large-aircraft completions specialists are poised for an unprecedented surge of demand as Arab and other heads of state replace ageing Boeing 747s with new widebody jets.
It comes as Swiss maintenance firm SR Technics - making its EBACE debut - confirmed its first VIP completion contract, an Airbus widebody from a Middle East customer, five months after announcing its entry into the market. The aircraft will arrive in the third quarter and be delivered in 2012.
AMAC Aerospace - one of three other European high-end completions houses - said at the show yesterday that it will outfit a Boeing 747-8I, its first widebody contract and one of 10 VIP jumbos sold by Seattle. The 20-month project will start at AMAC's Basle facility in June next year.
AMAC chief executive Heinz Köhli said he expects a market for 200 VIP widebodies over the next decade, most of which will be fought over by AMAC, Jet Aviation, Lufthansa Technik and now SR Technics.
SR Technics' shift into completions represents a major switch in strategy for the former Swissair maintenance arm under its majority shareholder, Abu Dhabi state investment vehicle Mubadala Aerospace.
Speaking to Flight Evening News, chief operating officer André Wall said the Zurich-based company had spent two years preparing for the move and would "not be rushing into it", focusing on one completion at a time in a newly refurbished dedicated hangar. "We want to make sure we get this right. We are not going out to build a pipeline," he said.
New chief executive James Stewart said Mubadala may eventually develop a refurbishment capability at sister company Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies.
AMAC and Lufthansa Technik announced a flurry of narrowbody deals at the show. AMAC will complete an Airbus ACJ319 for Qatar's Rizon Jet on behalf of a Gulf-based customer. The German company has signed a letter of commitment for a Boeing BBJ2 for Freestream Aircraft, while its US subsidiary BizJet International will outfit an ACJ319 for an Asian customer.