Experience key to Spairliners joint venture

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Maintenance specialists Lufthansa Technik (LHT) and Air France Industries (AFI) aim to tap into their experience in launch aircraft programmes in their new component support joint venture for the Airbus A380

The partners have now formally founded their joint venture company, Spairliners, which will provide full component support services to their parent airlines and third party A380 operators. 

Speaking at a press conference in Paris to detail the project, president of AFI Alain Bassil said the partners bring expertise and experience in component services - a sector in which both companies are already active. 

"We also have low costs due to economies of scale which will bring a strong basis for developing the new A380 business," he says. 

Bassil particularly highlights the two firms’ experience of launch aircraft programmes for Airbus and Boeing aircraft in the past. "So we have that launching capability experience and expertise which is very important for launching a new aircraft [activity]." 

LHT chairman August Henningsen adds: "If you go into a new aircraft in the market, what you really need is to have qualified people, the right tools and the right number of spares to guarantee safe and reliable operations.  The quantity and right spares at the right point is a must to safeguard reliability of the aircraft." 

The partners note the key importance, from an operational perspective for airlines, of ensuring an aircraft is not kept on the ground and that this is magnified on the A380 because of the increased number of passengers on board. “This is a situation we have to by all means avoid and this is why we spent a lot of time and ideas on how to avoid this,” says Henningsen

LHT senior vice-president for component services Uwe Mukrasch says: "Now with 600 or 800 passengers on board dispatch reliability is critical and component support is one of the key things to dispatch reliability.” 

"The right location is even more important than it ever was," he adds, noting support in outstations will be important. "If that is not done on the right scale, we think the costs will skyrocket for this aircraft." 

Spairliners is headquartered in Hamburg and will dispatch components via a main distribution centre in Paris operating via Charles de Gaulle Airport. Bassil adds: "While we are a European company, we clearly intend to serve the different fleets worldwide and that could mean putting different distribution centres worldwide depending on customer needs and when it makes sense.” 

Spairliners will support the A380s of the respective partners’ parent airlines – a total of 25 currently on order – and from the outset aims to secure third party customer work. It is targeting a 30% share of the component support services market for the A380, and the company notes the cost savings benefits will increase as more aircraft are supported.

"Every aircraft you add is adding to the economies of scale,” says Henningsen. “At the beginning it is relatively steep, but it starts to flatten out with aircraft numbers of around 60.”

Mukrasch also points to the employment benefits the development gives the respective companies. "Spairliners staffing levels depend on the success in the market. However many jobs are created or secured, and here we are looking long-term at about 100 employees for each company."