Mubadala Aerospace is finalising plans to integrate its two civil aircraft maintenance businesses as part of a strategy to become the world's largest independent aviation maintenance provider by 2015.
Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) and SR Technics (SRT), based in Europe, are in the process of merging and the new structure could be announced within months, an executive at Mubadala Aerospace said.
"We believe that scale and long-term sustainability go hand in hand, and this means that we will continue to drive the integration of SRT and ADAT to create a true global player," Abdulla Shadid, Mubadala Aerospace's business development manager overseeing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), told the MRO Middle East conference in Dubai yesterday.
Mubadala Aerospace is a unit of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
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The Middle East and surrounding regions comprise 37 per cent of the global aircraft maintenance market, according to TeamSAI, a US aviation consultancy.
It said the regional MRO industry was forecast to grow by 6 per cent a year until 2020, largely on the back of rapid fleet expansion by Gulf carriers. The growth has drawn interest from the world's largest MRO providers, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa Technik.
Last year, Air France-KLM opened a repair shop in Dubai, called Aerostructures Middle East Services, in partnership with Aircelle, owned by SAFRAN of France.
The joint venture will focus on speciality engine services.
Lufthansa Technik said it would decide this year whether to build a maintenance shop in Oman, and was also evaluating other partnership opportunities in the region.
Yesterday it announced a deal to maintain landing gear on Emirates Airline aircraft.
"The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing regions in terms of aviation," said Walter Heerdt, the senior vice president of marketing and sales at Lufthansa Technik. "We are certainly looking into this very deeply."
Emirates, the world's largest international airline by capacity and revenue passenger kilometres, will build several additional maintenance hangars in the coming years at Dubai International Airport to accommodate the arrival of new aircraft, said Iain Lachlan, the company's divisional senior vice president of engineering.
Mubadala Aerospace's goal is to become the third-largest MRO company, and the largest provider not affiliated with an airline.
Its SRT unit has bases in Zurich and Malta, and other facilities in Spain and Ireland.
ADAT is based at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where it is putting the finishing touches to its new maintenance hangar, capable of accommodating three Airbus A380 superjumbos.
To reach Mubadala's target for the civil aircraft market, the company will look to expand first in the Asia Pacific region, and then into the Americas, Mr Shadid said. “With the amount of business coming out of the Asia/Pacific region, 2011 is key for us,” he said. He said Mubadala was still evaluating the right growth strategy for each region, which could include acquisitions, joint ventures and creating new companies.
This week Mubadala said it was interested in partnering Malaysian aerospace firms on aviation sectors including on manufacturing and maintenance.
However, officials at the Abu Dhabi company stressed they had not yet decided on what country would serve as a beachhead from which it would expand into the Asian maintenance market.
Mubadala’s maintenance focus includes Sanad Aero Solutions, which finances and leases engines and components to airlines that work with ADAT and SRT, and AMMROC, which will service military aircraft in Al Ain.