Bombardier's business aircraft aftermarket focus has become much more international over the past few years, according to Eric Martel, the company's new president for its customer services division.

While the Canadian manufacturer's aftermarket services for business aircraft was mainly based around North American operators in the past, the company has expanded its global footprint in recent years as a result of larger growth in other regions - and the Middle East thereby took centre stage.

Last year, the airframer opened a regional support office at Dubai International airport, which includes a parts distribution centre that is set to grow its capabilities in the future, according to Martel.

In May, Bombardier appointed Arab Wings in Amman as an authorised service facility (ASF) for line maintenance and aircraft-on-ground (AOG) services for Challenger 604/605s. This was later followed by a similar arrangement with MNG Jet at Istanbul Atatürk airport.

Heavier maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work is provided by Bombardier's service centre in Amsterdam. This was opened in October 2009 and has seen approximately 30% more business in 2011 than last year, said Martel.

The facility has recently been granted temporary approval by the United Arab Emirates' General Civil Aviation Authority. This is to be converted to a permanent repair station certification by December.

Spare parts are being provided from Bombardier's distribution centre in Frankfurt. This facility, too, is going to grow with increasing custom in the buoyant Middle East region. Since last year, the manufacturer has increased its spare inventory by around $180 million, with most of the stock going to the European and Asian markets while North America remained flat, according to Martel.

In early 2011, the manufacturer also extended its PartsExpress spare part courier service to Middle Eastern markets. The service was launched in North America several years ago and employs chartered business aircraft to deliver spare parts to AOG-stricken customers. Martel expects "significant growth" in the business aviation market in the Middle East over the next 20 years. "That's why we need to put the infrastructure in place," he said

Aside from a number of "transactional delays" in Egypt, the company has not been severely affected by the political upheaval across the Middle East over the past year. "We have seen a slowdown, but I believe things will be picking up and this region will be back," said Martel. In the case of Libya, he is confident there will be an increase in activity.

Martel took the helm of the company in August after his predecessor, James Hoblyn, died. The company will continue Hoblyn's strategy of growing its international presence. However, Martel added that "we may have to accelerate a few things because the world is changing".

Source: Flight Daily News