Indian MRO provider Air Works has vastly expanded its commercial aircraft MRO business, and has ambitions to win more work from outside of the country.

Speaking with Flightglobal in the company’s chalet at the India Aviation show in Hyderabad, managing director Vivek Gour said the company has conducted about 55-60 heavy checks for Indian carriers and lessors since gaining European Aviation Safety Agency certification for the work in 2010.

The activities have centred on types that provide the bulk of India’s commercial fleet: the Airbus A320, Boeing 737, and ATR 72. The MRO provider works for the airlines, but has also enjoyed a strong order flow from leasing companies, which use the company to perform end of lease maintenance.

Air Works conducts its commercial MRO work at Hosur, a town near Bengaluru. It has leased a 7,500ft (2,290m) private airstrip and built about 10,000ft2 (929m2) of MRO hangarage at the site.

Gour, the former chief financial officer of GE Capital in India, says the company has done work for airlines in countries on the periphery of India such as Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, but hopes to win business from carriers further abroad. Gour expects such a deal could come by the middle of 2015.

This would be an important coup for Air Works, which employs about 1,200 globally, because India has not traditionally been a home to MRO activity. Owing to high taxes, duties and other restrictions, such as a lack of hangar space at the country’s airports, commercial MRO has been a non-starter. The costs and other restrictions offset India’s main advantage of inexpensive labour, and historically Indian carriers have sent their aircraft to countries in Southeast Asia or the Middle East for heavy checks.

Gour, however, says Air Works is no “cheap and cheerful” alternative to offshore options. “We charge competitive international rates. My dollar rate is no different to the rest of the region.”

Gour says the company seeks competitive advantage in other ways, one of which is completing a heavy check one day faster than rivals. “This is one day of extra revenue for our customers,” says Gaur.

Air Works is also adept at dealing with “hassle” repairs in parts of the aircraft such as the galleys, restrooms, and passenger cabin. Gaur gives an example of an Air Works technician in Hosur labouring for several hours to stitch a long tear in an economy class seat.

“We make sure to take care of the little jobs that are hassles for engineering departments,” Gour says. “We offer a lot of flexibility in regard to the extra work needed when an aircraft is opened up. Larger MRO firms tend to have such a large pipeline that they don’t like dealing with minor repairs like this.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard