SR Technics, the maintenance subsidiary of Swissair parent SAir Group, is trying to secure joint venture partners in the USA and Asia-Pacific to enable it to offer comprehensive global support to its airline customers.

Konrad Wittorf, vice-president of aircraft maintenance and overhaul, says that the company has retained Ernst & Young in the USA to help it construct a deal. He points to Southwest Airlines and FedEx as possible partners interested in such a venture.

The company says that it already has a limited relationship with Dallas, Texas-based Southwest. Wittorf adds that SR is holding discussions with various parties, and is "80% there with some and 20% with others".

On an Asian partnership, SR will not confirm or deny suggestions that a deal with Thai Airways International is being considered. The SAir Group is thought to be among bidders to secure the minority stake in the carrier on offer by the Thai Government.

In the meantime, SR believes that, if Singapore Airlines - as widely rumoured - joins the Lufthansa/United-led Star Alliance and breaks its relationship with Swissair, it will not prejudice any possible Asian maintenance joint venture, as SR is operated independently within the SAir Group.

Company officials are reluctant to reveal further details of the venture plans, saying that the situation is "sensitive" with Lufthansa Technik, with which it operates the Shannon Aerospace maintenance joint venture in Ireland, and others also harbouring expansion ambitions of their own.

SR Technics still has 10% spare capacity at its Zurich base in Switzerland, says Wittorf, but aims to have expansion plans in place to soak up the excess. So-called "4C" heavy maintenance checks are carried out by Shannon Aerospace, while SR has moved from a one-shift to a two-shift system in its engine service centre to reduce overhaul time.

Source: Flight International