GAMECO to open second hangar; gears up for further growth

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Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Co (GAMECO) will open its second hangar on 12 November, giving it more capacity to support China Southern Airlines' growth and grow its third party maintenance business.

The 67,000m² (721,000ft²) hangar, construction of which started in September 2011, will have space for eight narrowbodies, and also house engine and maintenance support shops and training facilities.

"We will put in more narrowbodies such as [Airbus] A320s, A321s, [Boeing] 757s. We will also have two nose-to-tail lines for FedEx's A300s and A310s here," its general manager Norbert Marx said in an interview with Flightglobal Pro.

"Because of China Southern's growth, it's hard for us to grow the third party business. This year alone they're integrating 70 new aircraft. But with a second hangar, step by step, our third party work can go up," he adds.

The focus, however, remains on supporting China Southern's growth.

GAMECO is a joint venture between China Southern Airlines and Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa Aircraft Investment. The MRO company receives up to 80% of its current workload from China Southern, and also does work for other carriers such as Asiana Airlines and FedEx. The plan, however, is to gradually grow its third party work such that it accounts for 30-40% of its business, says Marx.

With work for its second hangar in the final stages, GAMECO is also moving ahead in its third phase expansion plans. It has set aside a 100,000m² plot of land for a third hangar, and a 47,000m² plot for a building that will house a component business and composites repair centre.

The third hangar will be able to accommodate at least six widebody aircraft, while the composites repair centre will have autoclave capability.

"Design work is ongoing. A project like that will realistically take five years from start to finish, so we won't expect to see it ready before 2018 or 2019," says Marx.

Besides adding capability in Guangzhou, GAMECO is also setting up a landing gear overhaul base in Qingyuan, around 60km (37 miles) away. The facility cannot be located near its hangars because it will also do electroplating work, which can only be done in designated areas by law.

The facility will have the capacity to handle about 120 sets of landing gear annually, starting with those for narrowbody aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and A320 before moving into widebody work, says Marx. Construction is scheduled to start next April and be completed by mid-2015.

Marx adds that with changes to the Civil Aviation Administration China (CAAC) Part 145 approval, GAMECO has plans to set up more line maintenance stations.

"With the change you can extend [the approval] from your main base in Guangzhou to cover other stations. We think we can get an approval from CAAC in November to do this in Shanghai. We'll be the first one in China to get that. If this works well, I think we can look at having more line maintenance stations."

With the fleet growth in China, Marx expects the Chinese MRO industry to grow by 8-12% annually.

"We will at least grow with the market, if not faster," he adds.