Labour shortage continues to hit HAECO's profitability

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Labour shortage has continued to hit Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co's (HAECO) profitability, despite the company taking various measures to improve the situation.

The MRO company said airframe maintenance manhours sold in the first half of 2013 fell by 18% to 1.32 million, compared with the same time last year, because of a shortage in skilled and semi-skilled labour. Its profit, meanwhile, decreased by 75.3%.

"The effect on HAECO's aircraft maintenance capacity is particularly severe because of the need to transfer staff from airframe maintenance to line maintenance to support the growth of the latter business," says its chairman Christopher Pratt.

He adds that the company has, since last year, moved to improve remuneration, career development opportunities and training so as to recruit and retain high quality staff. Although the rate of attrition has slowed, it takes a long time to train new staff to reach the required standards, says Pratt.

HAECO is now working with local schools to promote job opportunities in the aircraft maintenance industry and is also seeking support from the government for the import of overseas engineers and mechanics to ease the shortage of such skilled staff in the local labour market.

The MRO group reported an attributable profit of HK$359 million ($46.3 million) for the first six months of 2013, down by 21% from HK$455 million in the same period last year.