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LatAm MRO providers capped by US moratorium: Aeroman

North and South American route structures have made Latin American MRO operations ideal for servicing narrowbody aircraft, although while there is growth in the segment the number of providers is invariably capped, according to Aeroman's chief executive.

Ernesto Ruiz, whose comments were made at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in April, said the extensive narrowbody flying from North into South America with Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft has positioned the Latin American MRO community to service those aircraft, as operators have revenue opportunities while ferrying aircraft to and from maintenance.

El Salvador-based Aeroman is located 2h from the US Gulf Coast, making ferry costs considerably lower when balanced against airline networks in the region.

Ruiz said that with few exceptions, it made more sense to service widebody aircraft in Asia, as they "typically fly to Asia [with] revenue, they leave the aircraft there for maintenance and it comes back in revenue service".

The company employs more than 400 people on the eight continuously operating lines at its El Salvador facility. The business is nearly 30 years old and has conducted more than 1,000 heavy checks in that time.

Despite Aeroman's industrial traction, a US legislative moratorium prohibits new US Federal Aviation Administration-certificated foreign repair stations.

"In Latin America we haven't seen any new MROs arising. We haven't heard of anyone doing it and I think it's all over. And now for foreign carriers, as we know the FAA is not granting new Part 125 certificates, so it's a problem really to start up a new operation in any place outside the US, if they want to obviously work with N-registered aircraft," he said.

While Aeroman holds 12 to 13 other non-FAA certifications, the willingness for new players in Latin America to open a repair station is diminished by the moratorium preventing any new entrant from servicing US-registered aircraft.

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