Mexico needs more MROs: VivaAerobus CEO

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VivaAerobus would like to see more heavy maintenance firms based in its home country of Mexico, says the carrier’s chief executive Juan Carlos Zuazua during a panel at the MRO Americas conference in Phoenix on 10 April.

As a low-cost carrier that outsources its heavy maintenance, VivaAerobus today turns to companies in Central America or North America because there are very few MROs to choose from that provide these services in Mexico, says Zuazua.

“Indeed they have very good quality, but perhaps the cost is not where we would like it to be,” he says.

The airline would ultimately like to combine the quality from these providers with lower turnaround times and lower costs, says Zuazua. Maintenance is VivaAerobus' largest controllable cost, he notes.

The low-cost carrier does not intend to go into the heavy maintenance business to support its own fleet. However, it is considering providing letters of intent for MRO services to investors who could bring certain capabilities to the country for the right price, pending the proper certification.

“At the end we are not interested in building heavy maintenance, but right now we’re trying to develop this specific action within the industry--or task--and looking to support potential investors on the MRO side that are willing to invest in Mexico, and putting them in contact with local governments,” he tells Flightglobal.

To lower costs throughout the supply chain, VivaAerobus focuses on strategic partnerships. For example, the carrier signed an eight-year power-by-the hour component agreement with UK-based AJW Aviation for its Airbus A320 and A320neo aircraft after working with the parts provider for several years. The carrier is phasing out its 737s in favour of the A320s by 2016.

SkyTeam partners Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico inaugurated a new 100,000ft2 (9,290m2) facility at Queretaro International airport for its TechOps Mexico facility. The MRO firm’s chief executive Miguel Uribe has said that the venture is looking to add third parties by the end of the year and to be “the biggest and the greenest MRO in the region.”

Zuazua says that he will be interested in the new MRO, but notes that the firm is mostly serving aircraft from the two carriers right now.

“I think we will certainly need to develop other options,” he says.

Mexicana MRO, the other main heavy maintenance firm in the country, was cleared earlier this month by a Mexico City court to continue operations under a restructuring agreement while the airline of the same name will be liquidated.

When asked if VivaAerobus is still considering going public, Zuazua says "yeah, of course" but notes that the airline would wait for the right time to do so. The carrier had prepared to go public in February but had postponed the measure, citing unstable market conditions.