Tons of new aircraft and no place to put them? MROs and airlines have been adding maintenance capacity to house new deliveries as work comes due. Perhaps the biggest news is Lion Air's late-August announcement of its intention to build a $250 million maintenance hub on the Indonesian island of Batam, angled to rival the established MRO hotbed of Singapore. Lion Air CEO Rusdi Kirana has designs for his own airline's Lion Technics MRO arm to handle internal needs as well as those of other carriers only a 45-min. ferry ride from Singapore's busy Changi International Airport (see page MRO14).
The campus reportedly will consist of four hangars, each able to accommodate three narrowbody aircraft at once. Two hangars are set for completion by year-end and the remaining two will follow by next summer. The site would complement a smaller one it is building in Manado, Indonesia, as well as its existing facilities at Surabaya.
Partners Cebu Pacific and Siaec are completing a long-planned second hangar at their maintenance campus at the former Clark AFB in the Philippines, which will be able to house aircraft as large as the Boeing 777. And while maintenance activity in Australia tends to be cost-prohibitive, Jetstar is leasing a widebody hangar at Melbourne Airport to undertake Boeing 787 and A320/A321 line maintenance, including A checks and triage, Snook says. About 35 technical and support staff initially will be employed there, he adds.
But new investments seem likely. “It's not going to be easy for the market to absorb a thousand planes in the next 10 years,” says XSQ Consulting's Hogan. He points to the possibility of new hangars being built by either independent investors or joint ventures in underdeveloped regions such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia—or even Myanmar, Bangladesh and Vietnam. He notes that this growth will be extended once China opens up further.
Snook concurs that these countries are “all establishing credible MRO options.”
As Hogan puts it, “it's a huge problem, but it's a huge opportunity.”