BAE Systems Australia’s MRO contract with Tigerair Australia is performing ahead of expectations, but the company is taking a measured approach to managing its growth.
The company, which has had a long history in military support work for the Royal Australian Air Force, was awarded the contract in October 2013 to provide line maintenance and A-checks on the budget carrier’s Airbus A320s at its Melbourne base.
“We’re delivering better than we thought we probably would,” BAE’s general manager aircraft integration maintenance and support, Nic Maan, told Flightglobal in a recent interview.
“That’s been not only due to us and our organisational maturity, but also Tigerair’s willingness to help us particularly through our first few months of operations.”
In March, that contract was extended to providing line maintenance at Tigerair’s Brisbane and Sydney bases.
Those contract wins displaced incumbent John Holland Aviation Services, which was shut down in June by its parent company following years of financial losses.
The Tigerair contract is part of a larger focus that BAE is placing on the civil MRO sector, which is part of the defence contractor’s plan to grow business in adjacent markets.
“For us in aerospace, this was one that we’ve been eyeing for a little while,” he says. “It was probably a three year process to decide if it was something we wanted to do.”
Prior to the contract win, BAE already had an underutilised hangar at Melbourne Tullamarine airport, which at various times has been used to support Boeing 707s, C-130 Hercules and P-3 Orions for the Royal Australian Air Force. Maan says that the facility, and its established military capabilities, made the transition into civil maintenance relatively easy.
As well as Tigerair, BAE has also been doing work for charter carrier Skytraders and some assistance to Virgin Australia at Melbourne.
While Maan says that there are some solid opportunities in the Australian MRO market, BAE is not rushing to take them all yet.
“We’re being very careful, as we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin,” he says. “We’ve been concentrating very much on bedding in what we’ve got and delivering for Tigerair particularly, but as our focus starts to look outwards in terms of growth, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for an organisation that can balance off cost and quality.”
In the meantime, he sees plenty of opportunity to build on its existing relationship with Tigerair Australia.
“I don’t think we’ve quite yet touched on the capacity for our existing contracts with our existing capabilities,” says Maan