Max Kingsley-Jones in Bahrain

Gulf Air has formally severed its links with local long-term maintenance provider Gulf Aircraft Maintenance (Gamco) and begun the transition to its new partner SR Technics, but does not rule out continuing to place work with the Abu Dhabi-based maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider.

“The separation with Gamco was signed off by both companies in mid-May. Gulf Air’s 40% shareholding is being returned,” says the Bahrain-based airline’s chief executive, James Hogan. “We’ll continue to put work into Gamco for certain activities – for example our leased, ex-Singapore Airlines A340s are currently being refitted at Gamco with new first class seats and we have an aircraft being painted there,” he says, but adds that transition of the airline’s fleet maintenance to SR Technics has already started.

Bahrain-based Gulf Air signed a $750 million, five-year maintenance deal with SR Technics in March covering the airline’s entire fleet, and the establishment of a new $50 million maintenance facility in Oman in which Gulf Air will hold a 10% stake. The new facility is scheduled to open next year. “All our heavy maintenance work going forward will be undertaken at SR Technics facilities in either Dublin or Switzerland, and A checks will be carried out in Bahrain,” says Hogan. “The new facility in Oman will eventually have the capability to do all checks.”

The split from Gamco after 25 years followed a global maintenance tender issued by Gulf Air a year ago as part of a benchmarking exercise to look at its costs. SR Technics was selected from a shortlist which also comprised HAECO and Lufthansa Technik. Hogan says that, in parallel with the benchmarking exercise, the decision by Abu Dhabi to withdraw from Gulf Air prompted the airline’s remaining shareholders Bahrain and Oman to ask for the maintenance operation to be located in one of its home markets.

The Oman facility will eventually comprise three bays and will employ 850 people by the end of its fifth year of operation, by which time third party work could represent more than 50% of its business, says SR Technics. Saudi low fare start-up Sama is understood to be one of the first customers for the facility.

Source: Flight International