Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Aviation Sales of the USA is discussing a possible tie-up with Malev Hungarian Airlines' Aeroplex maintenance subsidiary, in line with plans to establish a major facility in Europe. The move may threaten a previously announced joint-venture agreement between Aeroplex and Lufthansa Technik (LHT) to overhaul Boeing 737s (Flight International, 15-21 September).

Malev chief financial officer Erzebet Antal says the state-owned carrier has held talks with Miami-based Aviation Sales, and that the pair are "sharing information and ideas". She adds that LHT's proposal is still favoured, however, and says Malev has no plans to sell Aeroplex. The German company has yet to win approval from Malev's board to establish "LHT Budapest", although Antal says: "We should make a decision very soon". LHT will say only that "the process is still going on".

It is in theory possible that both deals could go through, since LHT's plans will involve only one of the Aeroplex hangars and require a much smaller workforce, although it is doubtful whether two new ventures could prosper in such circumstances. LHT Budapest would be 85%-owned by LHT, with Malev holding the rest, and was expected to begin operations late next year, handling spill-over work from Shannon Aerospace - itself a joint venture between Lufthansa and Swissair.

News of talks between Aviation Sales and Malev follow Czech newspaper reports saying the US company has been evaluating potential sites in that country and Poland to establish its planned European maintenance facility. Aviation Sales confirms that it has spoken to Malev, but was unable to disclose details of the discussions.

The company is one of the USA's largest third-party airliner maintenance providers, but has yet to establish a significant presence in Europe. Having expanded rapidly in last few years, it was itself recently targeted for take-over by BFGoodrich, but the talks failed, and it was subsequently hit by court filings over allegedly misleading financial projections, and by weak results in the last quarter.

Source: Flight International