LHT’s Manila facility to keep Air Asia X’s Airbuses flying
Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) yesterday signed an agreement with low-cost long-haul carrier Air Asia X for maintenance, repair and overhaul services (MRO) at its Manila facilities. Beginning in March the Malaysia-based operator’s fleet of eight Airbus A330s and A340s will be supported under the three-year contract.
According to the agreement, during the first year, LTP will perform four C-checks and one heavy maintenance check, as well as several cabin retrofits. In January, LTP changed a main landing gear seal on an AirAsia X A340.
In addition, Lufthansa Technik and Australia’s Virgin Blue have entered a three-year exclusive agreement for repairing variable stator vane bushings on CFM56-7 engines that power Virgin’s 60 Boeing 737s. LTQ Engineering, Lufthansa Technik’s venture with Qantas in Melbourne, will perform the work.
Also announced was another contract for Lufthansa Technik’s Chinese affiliate Ameco Beijing to provide Russia’s Aeroflot with C-checks on four Boeing 767-300ERs.
However, at a press briefing here in Singapore, Lufthansa Technik chairman August Henningsen appeared very cautious about this year’s prospects. For the first nine months of 2009, the company reported “increased revenues and slightly improved profits,” but the financial crisis has had a continuing impact on the MRO business, he said. He mentioned deferrals and “changing customer payment behavior,” among other problems.
Lufthansa’s MRO subsidiary has approximately 9,000 employees in the Asia-Pacific region. Henningsen said less than 10 percent is composed of temporary workers. He expects the total number to remain steady in the near future.
A strong reason why the region is keeping busy with widebody maintenance is the labor cost advantage. Henningsen estimated it to range between $40 and $60 per man-hour. Lufthansa Technik is studying several options for Airbus A380 base maintenance in Asia, “but nothing is fixed yet.” The company already offers such services in Frankfurt. Ameco Beijing performs A380 line maintenance in a new hangar that can house four of the type.