HANOI — Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co. (Gameco) is looking to dramatically expand its workforce and hangar facilities to meet growing demand from its part-owner China Southern and other customers.
The company will need to add up to 280 employees this year just to meet expected staff turnover of 5-6%, said Gameco General Manager Norbert Marx during Aviation Week’s MRO East Asia conference. It also wants to bring in another 500 to account for growth, meaning a total hiring target of almost 800 workers this year.
Meeting a rising need for staff is a challenge for the aviation sector in many countries, and China is no different. Marx estimates that demand for MRO labor in China— as measured in total hours — is expected to grow by 11.5% a year. However, the actual growth rate is only at 8%. This represents “a gap that has to be addressed,” Marx said.
Regarding facilities, Gameco intends to construct a third hangar at its Guangzhou base. This will be capable of handling six widebodies and 4-6 narrowbodies, Marx said. When it opens, it will lift Gameco’s overall heavy maintenance capacity to about 30 aircraft.
The company has received board approval for the project, and now must obtain the multiple government approvals required. After that it will go through a public bidding process. Construction is likely to begin at the end of this year or early in 2019, said Marx. Entry into service could occur either in late 2020 or early 2021.
Gameco also has other development projects underway, including a new composite repair facility and a component center. The company is in the final stages of completing the land transfer process for the site where these two facilities will be built. Construction on these is expected to start at the end of this year.
China Southern is Gameco’s main customer, with third-party work making up the remaining 35% of its business. Marx wants to grow the third-party share, but this will be challenging due to “the very steep trajectory” of China Southern’s fleet expansion.
Gameco is also looking to expand its presence overseas. This month it began performing line maintenance work in New Zealand, and hopes to do the same in Australia soon. It will initially work on China Southern aircraft in these countries, but could extend this to cover other Chinese carriers, Marx said.