Ethiopian Airlines has outlined details of a plan to create a sprawling, $600 million empire across Africa for third-party MRO work.

The infrastructure for Ethiopian's third-party MRO ambitions is already starting to take shape in Addis Ababa, with a new maintenance hangar set to open within two to three months, Ethiopian MRO managing director Zemene Nega tells Flightglobal in an interview.

That facility will be followed within about 15-21 months by the opening of another dedicated maintenance hangar and a paint hangar at Bole International airport, Nega says. The foundation for both hangars is already under construction, he says.

Once those three hangars have opened, Ethiopian will demolish its existing third-party maintenance hangar, which will be replaced by a much larger, multi-bay hangar, Nega says.

The Star Alliance carrier's emerging MRO hub in Addis Ababa will be augmented by satellite facilities across Africa, building upon Ethiopian's operational hub network.

Ethiopian has already established a maintenance bay in Togolese capital Lome, where ASKY Airlines a low-cost carrier partly owned by Ethiopian – is based. A third African hub will be stood up at Malawian, another carrier partly owned by Ethiopian. If Ethiopian succeeds in ongoing negotiations to open an operational hub in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an MRO base is to be added there, as well.

"We found out that it's very important to be closer to the customer," says Nega.

The plan is a key piece of Ethiopian's Vision 2025 strategy, which identifies third-party MRO business as a major source of growth over the next decade, in line with forecasts of African prosperity. Ethiopian is among the few African carriers that does not outsource maintenance work, supporting all of its aircraft in-house, including the Boeing 787 and forthcoming Airbus A350-900.

Source: Cirium Dashboard