Malaysia Airlines Engineering and Maintenance (MAS EM) aims to make its ATR maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company the premier ATR MRO shop in Asia by leveraging off the ATR brand name.
"We have teamed up with the manufacturer so we are in a strong position," MAS EM senior general manager Roslan Ismail said in an interview with ATI.
MAS EM and Alenia Aerospace signed a memorandum of understanding at last July's Farnborough Airshow to establish at joint-venture MRO business at MAS EM's Subang facility, in Kuala Lumpur, that will work on MAS' and third-party ATRs.
Alenia owns 50% of ATR and Roslan says the name of the new MRO venture will "make use of the ATR brand".
But he declines to elaborate or say when the joint-venture will start.
Some of the potential customers it is speaking to are the Philippines' Cebu Pacific, Malaysia's Berjaya Air and India's Kingfisher Airlines, he adds.
The final contract for the joint-venture "was supposed to be signed this month but we are still finalising the business plan".
Roslan says MAS EM decided to do heavy maintenance checks on ATR aircraft because there is a large market in Asia for such work. There are about 100 ATRs in Asia, he says.
He also says some ATR operators such as China's Xinjiang Airlines have been sending aircraft to France for maintenance work but it is cheaper for this work to be done on in Asia.
The other reason MAS EM wanted to do ATR work is because it already has expertise with turboprops, namely Fokker 50s, says Roslan.
He says the joint-venture with Alenia will use MAS EM's hangar number one at Subang Airport, which is used to maintain Fokker 50s.
MAS's Firefly has phased out its Fokker 50s and according to Flight's ACAS database it currently has five ATR 72s.
MASWings, a turboprop operation in East Malaysia, has two ATRs and some Fokker 50s. Both airlines have more ATR 72s on order.
MAS EM's main competitors in Asia for ATR maintenance work are Bangkok Airways, Fokker Services Asia and Vietnam Airlines.