MRO USA: Aeroman sees no impact from Avianca-TACA merger

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El Salvador-based aircraft maintenance company Aeroman does not expect any impact from the recent merger of its former owner, Grupo TACA, with Colombia's Avianca.

"We still maintain TACA's fleet. We have a long-term contract with them. We don't see any changes," Aeroman CEO Ernesto Ruiz told Flightglobal on the sidelines of the MRO Americas conference in Phoenix.

Ruiz says for at least the next five years Aeroman will continue to overhaul TACA's Airbus A320s while Avianca will overhaul its A320s in-house. Even the possible long-term implications of the Avianca-TACA merger are limited as Ruiz points out that TACA accounts for less than 20% of Aeroman's business.

Avianca and Grupo TACA unveiled plans to merge last year and earlier this year established a new parent company, Avianca-TACA. While Avianca has a large in-house maintenance company which overhauls all of the narrowbody and widebody aircraft types operated by Avianca and its sister carriers, Grupo TACA in 2006 sold a majority stake in Aeroman to Canada's ACTS, which is now known as Aveos.

While TACA still has a long-term contract with Aeroman covering its A320 family fleet Ruiz says Aeroman has elected not to maintain TACA's new fleet of Embraer E-190s. TACA in 2008 placed into service the first of 11 E-190s and is currently evaluating heavy maintenance options for the fleet.

"We decided to concentrate on narrowbodies - A320s and 737s. It's better to focus on a few aircraft than do everything," Ruiz says.

He says Aeroman also has no ambitions to expand into widebodies, even if TACA adds Airbus A330s to its fleet. TACA currently only operates narrowbody aircraft but Avianca-TACA is looking at allocating to TACA two A330s due to be delivered to the group in 2011.

"Our strategy has always been narrowbody aircraft. Our geography is perfect for narrowbodies," Ruiz says, pointing out that El Salvador is within narrowbody range of the entire US market.

Ruiz says although Aeroman has long-term arrangements with TACA and Mexican A320 operator Volaris, the USA is Aeroman's primary market, accounting for about 80% of the company's revenues. He says this business has held up well during the downturn and the Aeroman's seven narrowbody maintenance lines are fully booked for 2010. But Ruiz adds Aeroman is not currently looking at adding capacity as it is uncertain how a possible new round of consolidation in the US airline industry could impact the MRO industry.

"There's still more consolidation to happen in the US. My main market is in the US. We need to see who the players will be," Ruiz says.