KLM UK Engineering to support A320s

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Norwich-based maintenance provider KLM UK Engineering is expanding its capabilities to Airbus A320s as the company's Franco-Dutch parent shifts heavy airframe MRO for the type from Toulouse to Casablanca in Morocco.

Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) decided in 2012 to transfer heavy airframe maintenance for Air France's A320 fleet from its Toulouse base to Aerotechnic Industries (ATI) - a 50:50 joint venture with Royal Air Maroc - as part of the French carrier's 'Transform' efficiency programme

The Toulouse base will in turn be used for C-checks for A320s as well as A330 and A340 widebodies. But since the C-checks require fewer man-hours, the workforce in the French city is being cut by around 100 to approximately 350 staff members, says Franck Terner, AFI's president.

To be able to offer European A320 operators heavy maintenance capacity in their home region, KLM UK Engineering's capabilities will be extended to the twinjet type, says Terner.

The UK facility specialises in airframe maintenance for Boeing 737, BAE Systems 146 and Fokker regional aircraft. But new capabilities need to be developed as the latter legacy types are being phased out by European carriers.

Airframe maintenance operations in Paris are also being reduced as A330 and A340 checks are transferred elsewhere, with AFI KLM E&M looking to co-operate with MRO providers in other regions for heavy checks.

This should be similar to the ATI partnership with Royal Air Maroc, says Terner. Work will therefore not just be outsourced to external service providers, but AFI KLM E&M should in turn win other tasks - such as component or engine maintenance - from the partner, he says.