The U.S. aircraft manufacturer’s Gatwick announcement, subject to approval, follows on from a UK investment commitment targeting growth and job creation made at this year’s Farnborough Airshow – providing a timely lift amid the uncertainty emanating from June’s Brexit vote.
Yet even before the historic events of June 23, the OEM has seemingly long-viewed the UK as a key component of its European aftermarket strategy.
One only has to look at its activities in the past five years for evidence of its will to up the ante on its GoldCare program, comprised of Boeing-managed maintenance, engineering and materials services used by more than 60 airline customers worldwide.
In 2016, Boeing opened a GoldCare maintenance and engineering hangar in Frimley, Surrey, strategically located to target airline customers in both the UK and Europe. The continent has proved a lucrative stomping ground for the program so far, with a record $3 billion deal inked last summer between Boeing and budget carrier Norwegian running up until 2035 covering 737 MAX and 787 aircraft.
Looking to utilize existing expertise, Boeing has also grown its UK-based GoldCare approved service providers. Among the chief beneficiaries have been Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL), the Luton-headquartered MRO division of the Monarch Airline Group which became an approved GoldCare provider in 2010.
Its services include 787 and the next-generation 737s under the GoldCare program across its two UK base maintenance centers in Luton and Birmingham and its line maintenance facility in Gatwick. This has since been expanded overseas, with MAEL penning a two-year contract in March 2015 services from Denmark’s Copenhagen Airport. How expansions of the GoldCare footprint work for the likes of MAEL – one of only three independent approved providers – and other potential partners in the coming years will prove interesting.
The seemingly never-ending saga over UK airport capacity expansion may also have played into Boeing’s decision. Whether it is Gatwick, rival hub Heathrow or even both that ultimately gets the expansion greenlight – the possibility of more aircraft and traffic flowing into the UK’s southern region will inevitably bring more maintenance opportunities.
With Boeing CEO Dennis Muillenberg stating yesterday (November 21) that the company's services business –across commercial, defense and space – is expected to triple over the next 10 years, further expansion in the segment from Boeing and its OEM rivals in the near-future is inevitable.