MRO Europe: AFI KLM E&M and LHT extend Spairliners partnership

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Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) and Lufthansa Technik (LHT) are co-operating for Embraer 170 and 190 component support.

The two MRO groups have expanded their Spairliners joint venture, which was established to pool inventory and component repair capability for the Airbus A380, to include the regional jets from the Brazilian airframer.

AFI KLM E&M and LHT will merge their existing component support contracts for the respective types. This covers an initial fleet of 150 aircraft from the three parent carriers as well as third-party customers.

Spairliners is due to start providing the service in the first half 2013, covering both equipment repairs and pooling as on the A380.

Franck Terner, president of AFI, says that the move will not lead to component repair capacity being cut at either of the partners' facilities. But the companies want each site to specialise in certain repair activities to achieve savings.

The widened Spairliners operation is a departure from the model applied for the A380. While that business was based on the premise of supporting a relatively small global fleet and sharing inventory costs before Air France and Lufthansa introduced the A380, the new business will focus on a much larger existing fleet with spare parts stock already in place.

Terner says that the objective is to achieve "big scale effects" in the face of growing support from the OEMs.

Financing the acquisition of spare parts - where return on investment might only be realised in the long-term - is increasingly becoming a challenge even for MRO groups such as AFI KLM E&M, says Rob Pruim, senior-vice president sales international at the Franco-Dutch group.

Pruim adds that Spairliners is expecting another airline to opt for its A380 support services.