(AW) Air Maintenance Estonia plans to finish building this hangar mid-July and commence operations in it in September. MROs in Estonia and Lithuania face expansion choices. Modern aircraft maintenance in northern and eastern Europe is little more than a decade and half old. It has been fueled by rapid growth in local air traffic, especially in low-cost service, integration of many eastern states into the European Union and lower labor costs, which attracted airframe work from outside the region.

Smaller European MROs Disclose Survival Strategies

Maintenance providers from Eastern and Central Europe look for ways to expand and thrive in a tough market. (Photo: Air Maintenance Estonia)

Several MRO providers in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltics and Commonwealth of Independent States are searching for ways to gain a larger share in this fragmented market.

In the case of Adria Airways Tehnika, which provides maintenance for Airbus A320s and Bombardier CRJs, it plans to expand its capabilities in 2013, but first it must survive bankruptcy. Mirjana Ceh, the deputy CEO of the company, says the MRO company lost one of its largest customers in January after Spanair folded. He says the unstable European airline market “makes you wonder who is going to file for bankruptcy next.”

Zoran Bozic, manager of engine maintenance for JAT Tehnika, says “the challenge is remaining in the game,” and then “catching up with new technology.” He thinks teaming arrangements are good solutions for accomplishing this so neither partner has to commit excessive resources. “You must keep an open mind because your competitor could be your partner tomorrow,” he adds.

Air Maintenance Estonia, which is owned by private equity firm BaltCap, has access to more capital than these other providers and plans to open a new hangar later this year. David Williams, AME’s managing director, says the company will rent the hangar, and will also partner in a joint venture paint hangar that is scheduled to open in 2013. “I believe there is room for conservative growth” in the region, he says, and “I also believe it will be the survival of the fittest, not biggest.”

TAGS: Europe
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