Mexicana's maintenance unit plans to open an additional hangar at its Mexico City base next year to accommodate an expected surge in third-party business.

Mexicana MRO third-party maintenance director Hector Cobo says the company aims to open a second maintenance hangar at Mexico City International Airport in the third quarter 2011. He says the hangar will be able to accommodate one widebody or two narrowbody aircraft simultaneously.

Mexicana now has one aircraft maintenance hangar at Mexico City capable of handling up to seven aircraft at one time. It also has a paint hangar in Mexico City and an aircraft maintenance hangar in Guadalajara, which can accommodate up to three aircraft.

The Guadalajara facility, which opened last year, is now used to maintain aircraft in Mexicana's own group fleet. The Mexico City facility is used mainly for third-party customers.

Cobo says Mexicana has been able to secure enough third-party business to keep most of its lines busy during the economic downturn and its remaining slots for 2010 are now mostly committed. He says the expansion is designed to coincide with a recovery in the market.

"The market is beginning to recover from last year. I think 2011 will have a lot of growth," Cobo told Flightglobal at the MRO Americas conference in Phoenix. "We want to be prepared to support the growth needs in the market."

Construction of the additional hangar is expected to begin by early 2011.

Mexicana has significantly grown its third-party maintenance business since its maintenance unit was rebranded Mexicana MRO in 2008. But Cobo says nearly all its third-party customers are now from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Now we're focusing on the US market and Canada," Cobo says. "Our main goal is to enter the US market and enter into an agreement with a big US airline. We're working on that objective."

Cobo says Mexicana has not worked on an aircraft for a US airline since 2008, when it had a contract for a small international US carrier that has since ceased operations. He says Mexicana MRO is optimistic it can secure a narrowbody aircraft maintenance contract from a major US airline late this year or in 2011, although he acknowledges "obviously there will be a lot of competition".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news