Air Berlin does not intend to cut back its MRO division despite its plans to reduce its fleet and operate a single narrowbody type.

As part of its restructuring programme, the Oneworld carrier has decided to phase out its Boeing 737s and have a single-aisle inventory comprised exclusively of Airbus A320-family aircraft by the end of 2016.

The changes will initially increase the workload of Air Berlin Technik as the 737s will undergo lease-return checks while additional A320s will be configured for introduction to the airline's fleet, says the MRO unit's managing director Werner Rothenbaecher.

But in the longer term, Air Berlin Technik will need to increase its third-party maintenance business, he says. Around 80% of the division's volume is accounted for by the airline's own fleet, with external customers making up the rest.

The third-party business is centred on line maintenance services.

No changes are planned for the MRO provider's base maintenance operations, says Rothenbaecher. In 2013, Air Berlin consolidated all scheduled base maintenance for its 737s, A320s and Bombardier Q400 turboprops in Munich. Airbus aircraft had previously been serviced in Dusseldorf.

Base maintenance for the carrier's A330 widebodies has been outsourced.

While Air Berlin's Munich facility has grown significantly through the concentration of C-checks at the site, the Dusseldorf base has remained Air Berlin Technik's largest location and the centre of the group's engineering know-how. Aircraft requiring unscheduled or complex repair are serviced there.

"Dusseldorf is important for us," says Rothenbaecher. "This is our largest operation, with the most extensive expertise."

He says there are "no current plans" to make changes to the operations in Dusseldorf and Munich as a result of the planned fleet cuts. "We are not talking about a significant reduction; we are talking about a change [to a single-type fleet]. So the number of aircraft will not be significantly smaller," he says.

Air Berlin Technik employs around 1,800 staff members across its base and line maintenance operations.

In August, Air Berlin chief executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer disclosed plans to cut the fleet size by 10 aircraft between summer 2015 and summer 2016. Air Berlin had 144 aircraft at the end of June: 45 737s, 66 A320-family jets, 14 A330s, 12 Q400s and seven Embraer 190 regional jets.

Source: Cirium Dashboard