MADRID—MRO providers must rethink how they do business both with competitors and airlines, even if it means seemingly counter-intuitive moves like taking on more financial risk and cooperating with traditional rivals, several senior industry executives said during a panel at MRO Europe.
“In the past, a lot of financial risk was taken by the operator,” said TAP Maintenance & Engineering. Vice-President Marketing and Sales Carlos Rulvo. "Today, an MRO organization has to be willing to accept more of that themselves.”
Rulvo was referring to the panel’s agreement that MROs need to invest considerable capital into new facilities that will be able to handle the influx next-generation aircraft coming online over the next 10 years.
Turkish Technic Sales and Marketing Director Altug Sokeli agreed, adding that it is a problem for more than just the aftermarket.
"The new fleet is going to bring a lot of challenges to all of us: MROs, airlines, and lessors," he explained.
One way of tackling those challenges is to enter into more partnerships with competitors--something panelists said shouldn't be seen as novel or strange.
“We can continue to compete with each other,” said TAP’s Rulvo, “but we also have to cooperate for mutual benefit, by sharing our skills and experience. It’s not impossible to have such a partnership,” he added, pointing to a TAP partnership with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance in place since 1997.
"It’s important, though, to develop a win-win strategy for both parties,” he emphasized.
Turkish Technic has had success with a similar approach.
“We’ve experienced such a win-win partnership and enjoyed it, so we’re looking to grow those volumes,” said Sokeli.
Both Rulvo and Sokeli agreed that escalating labor costs in Europe will necessitate focusing more on engine and/or component work and less on labor-intensive airframe work. That, they note, will mean a shift in workforce competence.
“The skills you need for airframe maintenance are traditional engineering ones,” said Rulvo. “It’s a different game for engines and components, though. There, you also have to be good at global logistics.”