Benoët Gosset is chairman and chief executive of newly-established Messier Services International, which will become a stand-alone company in March. Gosset will oversee the company's maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for landing and braking systems in the US, UK, France and Singapore. He talks to Brent Hannon at the show.

Q: Can you briefly explain your reorganisation?

A: We are creating a holding company where all the interests of Messier Services will be channeled. In France, Messier-Bugatti is operating under the trade name Messier Services France, but legally speaking, it's Messier Bugatti division. On the other hand you have the Messier-Dowty department. We are creating a company to combine those two resources into one company, so all these people now will be working under a company called Messier Services.

Q: How have you been affected by the global recession?

A: It depends on the countries and the continents.

To take an example, in the US, our work was on a lot of older programmes such as older 737s; obviously this type of aircraft has been grounded for good.

We don't repair the landing gear or hydraulics any more, and we've seen a sharp drop in sales. Globally we forecast about a 10% reduction, which is not so bad considering. We have some military activities that provide a buffer.

Q: What are your sales prospects in Asia?

A: We have a division that is a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, and it provides us a base of sales from Singapore Airlines itself.

But we are also targeting other customers in the whole of Asia, including Korean Air Liner, and operators in Indonesia and China. We have a new customer for three landing overhauls on Airbus A300-600s, so that's encouraging.

Q: What are your plans for expansion into China?

A: We are in discussions with various potential partners, but we have not formalised anything yet.

For landing gear, the market is not quite right – there is not enough business for a landing gear shop in China yet.

Landing gear is on the aircraft for 10 years – that means you have to support a lot of aircraft in order to open a full-size landing gear shop. It takes about 200 aircraft.

But we are discussing creating a small shop, and sending the big parts here to Singapore for regeneration and machining and sending them back for re-assembly.

We need a partner that is patient enough to open a shop with limited capability, and then expanding when the business is there.

Q: What are the trends in airlines outsourcing their maintenance work?

A: It's going in both directions. After the 2001 decrease in airline business, we've seen more of that – airlines outsourcing and concentrating on their core businesses.

But in America and Europe, where you've got huge shops with unions that are very strong, it would be very difficult for airlines to get rid of their maintenance organisations.

Q: Would those airlines like to do more outsourcing?

A: British Airways in the 1990s sold the landing gear overhaul shop to Hawker Pacific, the wheel brake overhaul shop to AlliedSignal, the engine shop to GE, so we have seen some airlines go in that direction. But not all airlines: Lufthansa is the counter-example. Their maintenance organisation, Lufthansa Technik, is developing worldwide. They are really developing and in some ways they are our main competitors.

Source: Flight Daily News