Pavel Haleš, chairman of Czech Airlines Technics, is looking for steady growth in maintenance demand in 2018, especially for narrowbody aircraft, largely due to prolonged operation of older aircraft. “We see this trend already as modifications and refurbishments of passenger cabins are becoming more frequent,” Haleš notes.
Base maintenance accounts for over half of CSAT revenue. The company’s strategy is to develop base maintenance and offer complex high-quality services. Haleš sees big opportunities in maintaining the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX. CSAT is the first MRO in the Czech Republic and one of the few in Europe certified to do line maintenance for these new aircraft. CSAT will also try get certified for base maintenance on the neo and MAX.
CSAT currently has more than 770 employees, mostly at Václav Havel Airport Prague. In early 2017, it began hiring 80 new employees to staff its fifth base maintenance line, which opened in autumn 2017. CSAT has an exclusive partnership with the Secondary School of Civil Aviation in Prague. This co-operation and scholarship program guarantees students jobs immediately after graduation. In mid-December, CSAT also began a partnership with the faculty of transportation at Czech Technical University, one of the best universities in the Czech Republic. CSAT continues to hire new staff for line and base maintenance and other departments. “We are looking for aviation mechanics, avionics, engineers, specialists for engines and others,” Haleš says.
Haleš says the biggest challenge facing CSAT and other MROs remains the job market. With the Czech Republic having the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, it is difficult to staff with technical education, training and interest in aviation. That was why CSAT began cooperating with the local school and university.
October’s addition of a fifth base maintenance line for Boeing 737s, A320-family and ATR aircraft will increase workload grow by 25%. This is CSAT’s second increase in base maintenance capacity since 2014. The MRO has entered into several long-term agreements with guaranteed work volumes to fill the hangars. “The existing capacity was fully booked for years, increasing capacity was a logical step,” Haleš explains. Much of the growth stems from existing customers, which keep increasing fleets. CSAT also plans to open new facilities for line maintenance in the beginning of 2018.
CSAT can now offer base and line maintenance, overhaul of landing gears, component maintenance and other services, including CAMO support. It does base maintenance for all 737s, classic and new generation, for A319s, A320s and A321s and for ATR-42s and -72s. Line capabilities extend further, to 747s and A330s. For landing gear, CSAT focuses on 737 sets.