Middle Eastern boom lures global MRO players

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Lured by vertiginous fleet growth in the Middle East, the MRO giants of Europe and Asia are seeking partnerships to establish beachheads in the region.

A prime example is Air France-KLM's MRO division, which opened a nacelle repair shop with Safran's Aircelle in Dubai in March 2010. The main focus for the 50:50 joint venture, named Aerostructures Middle East Services, is thrust reverser repair for turbofan engines, with additional capabilities to handle other nacelle components.

The company supports General Electric CF34-8E, CF6-80 series, GE90, CFM International CFM56-5A/5B/7B, Engine Alliance GP7200 and Rolls-Royce Trent 500/700/900 engines. Its first project was a Trent 700 thrust reverser repair for Gulf Air in August 2010.

The facility has eight workstations for large engines and eight for smaller engines. A clean room is available for composite repairs, plus a milling shop and paint booth. The 2,200m² (23,700ft²) facility is located on a 11,000m² site, giving ample space for expansion.

aerotechnic a320 mro, patrick delapierre
 © Patrick Delapierre
Aerotechnic Industries conducts labour-intensive A320 MRO in Casablanca, Morocco

Air France-KLM set up a 50:50 base maintenance joint venture for Airbus A320-family aircraft with Royal Air Maroc in Morocco in February 2010. Aerotechnic Industries uses two aircraft bays at the airline's maintenance centre at Casablanca's Mohamed V airport and the service is aimed at African, European and Middle Eastern operators. The jointly managed company focuses on A- and C-checks as well as modification work, with D-check capability to come in the future.

Air France and Royal Air Maroc want to "pool their long experience with medium-haul fleets". With several daily flights between Morocco and Paris, they promise an "unbroken supply chain" through Air France-KLM's maintenance base in Paris, which would guarantee "unrivalled short turnaround times".

Other examples of international MRO companies moving in are Singapore's SIA Engineering and Lufthansa Technik. SIA Engineering has signed a memorandum with Bahrain's Mumtalakat holding company to set up an MRO venture called Gulf Technic.

Lufthansa Technik inked a letter of intent with Oman Air at Dubai air show in 2009 to set up an MRO facility in Muscat. The partners want to build a hangar to accommodate two widebody and two narrowbody aircraft, providing maintenance up to light C-checks for Airbus A330, Boeing 737, ATR 42 and other aircraft in Oman Air's fleet.