Air Berlin insists it will continue base-maintenance operations in Munich despite shareholder Etihad Airways' plans to establish a specialist facility for such checks in a low-cost location in eastern Europe.

At Dubai air show earlier this month, Etihad disclosed that it was "exploring the feasibility" of establishing a narrowbody maintenance facility in an eastern European low-cost location together with Abu Dhabi's investment fund Mubadala, the parent of Swiss MRO specialist SR Technics.

That facility is to be used for base-maintenance checks across the Airbus A320 fleets of Etihad partner airlines such as Air Berlin, Air Serbia and Alitalia, Mubadala Aerospace & Defense Services executive director Grant Skinner told Flightglobal at the air show.

Air Berlin, however, asserts: "We will continue to conduct A320 base maintenance in Munich."

This is despite the German carrier's chief executive Stefan Pichler having previously stressed that Air Berlin's restructuring effort must be aimed at concentrating business activity on its core airline operations. "We are studying how areas such as maintenance and cargo can be handled in other forms, co-operations, partnerships, etc, so that we and the management can concentrate 100% on the core business," he said in August.

As part of a previous restructuring programme, Air Berlin Technik in 2013 consolidated all scheduled base maintenance for its Boeing 737s, A320s and Bombardier Q400 turboprops in Munich. Airbus aircraft had previously been serviced in Dusseldorf.

Last year, the airline decided to phase out its 737s by 2016.

Meanwhile, SR Technics has become "preferred" maintenance provider for Air Berlin – and other Etihad partner airlines – as part of the newly intensified co-operation between the Abu Dhabi carrier and Mubadala.

Source: Cirium Dashboard