January 28, 2013
Credit: Credit: ADAT
Lee Ann Tegtmeier and Jens Flottau Dubai
As Middle East airlines grow their fleets and expand their markets, three dynamics are becoming apparent. One is that many carriers want aftermarket services in the region—having suppliers service them from North America or Europe sometimes is no longer acceptable. The other two are guarding against overcapacity and solving the shortage of MRO personnel in the region.
Abdullah Osman, Emirates vice president for engineering materials management, emphasized this point during Aviation Week's MRO Middle East Conference here last week when he asked why more manufacturers are not providing maintenance support in the region.
Besides developing the support and infrastructure in the region, locating aftermarket providers in the Middle East and North Africa should decrease the expenses of shipping MRO work outside the region, as well as costs associated with logistics and longer asset downtime (AW&ST Jan. 21, p. 40).
The Middle East air transport market may be among the fastest-growing in the world, but whether that translates into an equally speedy development of the region's MRO business remains to be seen. Because the average fleet age will decline over the next 10 years, demand for MRO might only kick in with a “time lag,” Yen-Pu Paul Chen, Aviation Week's director of forecasts and analytics, told delegates at the conference.
According to Chen's 10-year market forecast, the average age of Middle East-based aircraft will decline to 9.4 years from 10.8 years now. The current figure already compares favorably to the world average (11.1 years) and that advantage is set to widen even further. Almost half of the current fleet is less than seven years old—meaning the aircraft have not yet undergone heavy checks.
Still, the MRO market in the Middle East is growing faster than in most other regions.
David Stewart, head of aviation and aerospace at ICF SH&E, predicts the Middle East MRO market will increase by 8.5% annually in the next few years. But he cautions that a large part of it may be locked in with big airlines such as Emirates, which do most work in-house. The share of freely available business may therefore be smaller than anticipated.