Air France-KLM intends to further build its maintenance partnership with Air China after its MRO division was selected to supports the Asian carrier’s General Electric GE90 engines.

Air China has signed an exclusive long-term, flight hour-based engine MRO agreement covering both its 20 Boeing 777-300ER passenger jets and eight 777 freighters at the Air China Cargo joint venture with Cathay Pacific. This is the “most important” and “largest contract ever” in the history of Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, the MRO group says.

It will bring the number of GE90 engines serviced by AFI KLM E&M to nearly 400 and cement the group’s position as second-largest MRO provider for the type after GE, says Air France-KLM executive vice-president engineering and maintenance Franck Terner.

Shop visits will be conducted at AFI’s engine overhaul facility in Paris.

The deal should also pave the way to “extend the scope” of co-operation between AFI KLM E&M and Air China Technics, both sides have stated. Air China senior vice-president Chai Weixi says Air France-KLM’s ability to “abide by our tender procedure helped to strengthen the climate of trust between our two groups”.

Both sides have been working together for “many years”, and this has allowed them “to become closer and to gain a better idea of the expectations of each party”, adds Weixi.

The expanded co-operation will initially comprise a mutual staff exchange and training programme for “several hundred” engineers and managers over a number of years, says Terner. The first group of Air China Technics employees are to visit AFI’s facilities in Paris after the summer, with a team of European staff members due to travel to Beijing later on, he says.

However, the staff exchange programme will only be first step to “build up relations between our two groups around a common language” before “a large number of common MRO topics and centres of interest, including aerostructures, cabin modifications and line maintenance” will be explored “in further detail”, says Weixi.

"These exchanges will help enrich our two organisations with new points of view and will also help identify MRO opportunities likely to benefit both parties," says Terner.

As part of the current agreement, an Air France 747 will undergo a D-check at Ameco Beijing, Air China’s MRO joint venture with Lufthansa.

Air China is planning to merge Ameco with Air China Technics.

Source: Cirium Dashboard