Airbus has strengthened its already considerable aftermarket presence in Southeast Asia by taking full control of Kuala Lumpur-based Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE).
The European company had owned 40% of the MRO provider since acquiring a stake in 2011. Its full takeover comes during a period of expansion for the facility and aviation in general in Southeast Asia.
In September SAE opened a second, 12,000sqm hangar able to fit two single-aisle aircraft. Its first 37,000sqm hangar can accommodate up to six single-aisle or two widebody aircraft at any one time.
Its customers include some of the biggest low-cost carriers in the region, including AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Indigo, Jetstar Asia, Scoot, Malindo Air, Maswings, and Vietjet Air.
The facility also houses a regional hub for spare parts for airlines that have selected the Airbus Flight Hour Services total support package for their fleets.
“Our ambition is for SAE to be a leading MRO in the region by becoming an innovation flagship for servicing Airbus commercial aircraft,” says Laurent Martinez, head of services by Airbus.
Earlier this month Martinez told the MRO Europe conference that he expects more consolidation in what he sees as a fragmented MRO sector.
Much of that consolidation is likely to come from joint ventures between OEMs and independent maintenance and spare parts suppliers.
A nearby example in the region is HMS Services in Singapore, a 65-35 joint venture between SIA Engineering and Airbus that offers airframe maintenance, cabin upgrade and modification services for Airbus A380, A350 and A330 aircraft to airlines in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
While two heavy maintenance facilities in neighbouring countries might seem like overkill for Airbus, it seems that the strategy is for HMS Services to cater for widebody aircraft of network carriers and the burgeoning long-haul, low-cost sector, while SAE mainly services the narrowbodies of traditional budget carriers.