Swiss MRO provider SR Technics is discontinuing all base maintenance activities at its Zurich headquarters in an effort to concentrate airframe-related services at its planned new hangar in Malta.
The company had already – following a strategic review in 2014 – reduced its base maintenance staff and footprint in Zurich to concentrate on bespoke cabin refurbishments, deeming the location to be uncompetitive for routine airframe checks.
However, a source familiar with the situation tells FlightGlobal that even complex cabin upgrades on long-haul aircraft were not covering costs at the site.
Therefore, from the first quarter of 2019, SR Technics will end the operations of its aircraft services division in Zurich, except for line maintenance and relatively simple tasks like engine changes.
In April, SR Technics disclosed that it had started consultations for up to 300 redundancies within the aircraft services division in a bid to "right-size its infrastructure and capacity at Zurich".
A proportion of the affected staff is being transferred to the engine services division, as the MRO provider is in the process of expanding capacity of its engine overhaul shop.
The facility is set to handle around 300 engines a year by the end of 2019, from around 230 today.
SR Technics says that more than 100 new jobs in the engine services division were "offered to a first wave of our base and heavy maintenance employees".
The company says it is unable to provide final staff transfer and redundancy figures as the process is still ongoing.
In April, SR Technics warned that its 1,500-strong workforce in Zurich could "potentially" be reduced to 1,300 over a two-year period.
The MRO provider argued that "Switzerland belongs to the world's most expensive economies" and that it was "forced to review its operation at Zurich airport across all areas to remain competitive".
Meanwhile, in Malta, SR Technics will build a hangar designed to eventually accommodate four narrowbodies and two widebodies. A first-phase opening, with capacity for four single-aisles, is scheduled for November 2019.
The greenfield facility will replace a two-bay hangar that SR Technics has been using since 2010, when the company launched base maintenance operations in the Mediterranean island nation.
Today, the site is focused on base checks for Airbus A320-family jets – EasyJet is a main customer – and Boeing 737s.
The source says SR Technics is considering conducting widebody interior upgrades at the site from 2021-2022.
Routine heavy checks for long-haul aircraft are not on the agenda for the facility, however.
The new hangar will be constructed next to Lufthansa Technik Malta's facility, on the airport's western perimeter. SR Technics' current operation is located in a legacy hangar on the airport's east side.
The Swiss company sees proximity to LHT as a basis for a co-operative rather than purely competitive co-existence between the two MROs.
LHT's Maltese facility is specialised in base maintenance for Airbus narrow- and widebody types, with Lufthansa a key customer.
The German MRO provider says it will service its parent's A320neos and A350s in Malta, and is evaluating construction of an additional hangar.