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Alitalia shifts gear with Lufthansa agreement

Alitalia's maintenance arm believes a new deal with Lufthansa Technik will allow it to build a far larger engine overhaul business. Under the deal, in which Lufthansa Technik has acquired 40% of Alitalia Maintenance Systems (AMS) for an undisclosed amount, overhauls of some General Electric CF6-50 and CF6-80 engines will move from Lufthansa's workshop in Hamburg to the AMS plant at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

CF6 series work makes up a third of Lufthansa Technik's total engine overhaul business - roughly 160 out of 500 engines a year - but the company plans to increase its focus on component repair. The move will almost double AMS's engine work: it overhauls around 80 engines a year, but plans to increase this to at least 150 a year.

Some component repair work will move from Fiumicino to Hamburg, but "only if AMS doesn't have the capability in Italy", Lufthansa says. No jobs will be lost. When the deal was first suggested at the Paris air show in June, Alitalia's vice-president for planning, Luca Paodone, said it would expand to include CFM International CFM56-5 engines from next year, and could eventually lead to the sell off of AMS.

Lufthansa Technik has signed a series of deals this year aimed at allowing it to increase its specialisation in a few key areas. Last month it agreed with Austrian Airlines, a Star Alliance partner, to take over heavy maintenance on Austrian Airbus aircraft and CFM International and Pratt & Whitney engines. The end of heavy tariffs on imported airliners could also see a wide maintenance alliance with Aeroflot (Flight International, 2-8 September).

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