IAG chief Willie Walsh, speaking in a panel at the IATA AGM in Miami, called on airlines, in partnership with the airline association, to put the microscope on restrictive practices in the maintenance world.

“As an industry we need to start taking action or our maintenance costs will definitely rise,” says Walsh. “If we don’t challenge the restrictive practices that exist, we will be held captive and costs will rise and rise.

“We have to start redressing this situation. The IATA board of governors was unanimous on the issue, and they are going to engage external legal counsel to start looking into this issue,” he says. “We need to start pushing back on our costs where they are driven by a limited number of suppliers.”

Walsh says that there are anecdotes of dramatic rises in MRO costs as a result of carriers being forced to enter into restrictive contracts for maintenance services and the perception amongst airlines is that the market is becoming more restrictive, not less. “The escalation in costs bears no relation to the service you are getting – it’s just not right,” he says.

“This is something as an industry we have to address. Our shareholders expect it of us,” Walsh adds.

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark expressed the issue another way during the panel. “There’s no way we will let engine costs per flight hour rise on new generation jets. We expect unit costs to come down by as much as 20%, especially on power by the hour deals,” he says.

Clark sees the new generation of engines making “huge advances” in unit cost reduction and that Emirates has got some “very good deals” on its engine selections.

GE Aviation president David Joyce explained that the engine manufacturers have a “challenging design problem” when seeking to reduce fuel burn and keep life cycle maintenance costs down on new engines.

However, their efforts have borne fruit, said Joyce, citing the example of the original CFM56 variants having a typical time on wing of 5,000-7,000 cycles whereas today’s CFM56s have 20,000 cycles before coming off wing.

Source: Cirium Dashboard