Tim Macdougald, director of MAAS Aviation, talks about why the company opened paint hangars in the U.S. and in Europe.
What was the thinking behind expanding your paint facilities in Europe and the U.S.?
Our expansion in Germany is driven by demand from Airbus and as a result of winning competitive tenders to provide aircraft painting services to them. The expansion in the 2016-18 period represents delivery of plans committed to by both parties back in 2013.
Our expansion in the Netherlands is driven by market opportunity--this gave rise to our decision to double our capacity at our Maastricht facility. Prior to now, operations in Maastricht were limited to one bay and we have been unable to meet customer demand for our services for quite some time, and recently we finally got around to delivering on this.
Our entry in to the U.S. was driven by our relationship with Airbus following our successful tender to provide OEM painting services at its final assembly line facility in Mobile. Alabama. Having successfully delivered the OEM hangar for Airbus, the company took the decision to expand our business in the U.S. by designing and constructing a twin-bay MRO facility for the U.S. aftermarket.
Has there been a strong supply of work emanating from the Mobile, Alabama paint shop?
The OEM work is going very well from inception in February 2016 and is continuing to develop in line with the pace of Airbus production.
The MRO facility only opened for business in February and has had its first aircraft input in recent weeks. We are in discussion with several major players in the U.S. market regarding taking on lines of business on their behalf and are confident that our significant investment in this new facility will be rewarded with a continuous business supply into the future.
Capacity also has doubled at the Maastricht facility. What were the investments in new technologies at this site?
The new facility incorporates the latest environmental, air handling and building management systems to meet increasingly stringent requirements. We also are planning to retrofit our existing paint shop facility at Maastricht Airport with the same technologies incorporated into our new paint shop there. Our new systems optimize environmental controls and operational efficiencies to support quality application of aircraft painting.
How have demand for paint services compared between North American and Europe?
Our European business is long established, both at OEM and MRO level. Business demand remains very strong in both areas, and MAAS is confident that its continued investment in its European base leaves the company well positioned to meet both current and future customer demand.
The U.S. business is in its infancy. Having said that, the OEM business has a defined supply line based on Airbus production schedules, and we are ready to deal with both existing and future requirements should Airbus increase its output.
The MRO business is effectively a start-up. Like all start-ups, it needs time to establish itself and build a loyal customer base. We are in the process of building this platform that will deliver our future growth objectives for the U.S. aftermarket business.
Do you foresee continued expansions throughout these regions, or potentially other ones?
The key objective for MAAS, having added four new hangars in 2016-17, is to consolidate our new expanded business footprint in both Europe and the U.S. Having said that we are in the early planning stages of designing and constructing a new paint shop for Airbus in Hamburg.
In the interim, we are allocating our management resources, which have been expanded in line with business growth, to successfully deliver the growth plan we have for each location. It is important that we concentrate fully on maximizing business opportunities across each of our eight hangars while maintaining our long held reputation for a quality finish.
In tandem with this, we will remain open to new opportunities in our two core markets of Europe and the U.S. and, as such, further expansion--while not planned imminently other than the Hamburg hangar mentioned above--cannot be ruled out if and when the opportunity arises.