European MROs told to be prepared

The Eurozone has had a pretty tough few years following the economic downturn with debt crises, austerity measures and geopolitical unrest, all of which has impacted the commercial aviation sector. But better times are around the corner according to industry experts presenting at the opening session of MRO Europe in Madrid yesterday (October 7).

The message was clear, European MROs are in a great position to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the unprecedented growth being seen in aviation globally, if they take the time to understand and adapt to new and evolving markets.

Consultancies TeamSAI and ICF International predict that Western Europe will witness moderate fleet and MRO growth over the next 10 years, with TeamSAI predicting a 2.1 per cent increase in aircraft numbers and a 2.9 per cent rise in the global MRO market share.

Meanwhile, growth in Eastern Europe is expected to far outstrip its neighbour, with a 5.6 per cent expansion in the region’s fleet (TeamSAI) by 2023, and an MRO market that is set to grow at a rate of seven per cent each year (ICF International), although the region’s share of the global market will remain small.*

Despite these forecasts of solid, if not spectacular, growth in Europe the key message from yesterday’s sessions was that companies must better prepare themselves for the uncertainties and challenges inherent to our sector.

To be successful, companies must make plans that ensure they can cope with both the positive and the negative outcomes of a continually evolving business environment. These issues can be region specific (the Ukrainian political unrest, for example, or the Southern European debt crisis), natural phenomena (viral outbreaks, ash clouds) or more business related concerns (such as OEM aftermarket incursion, industry consolidation and workforce availability).

Volatility and risk remain at the heart of the commercial aviation aftermarket despite record levels of aircraft orders and unparalleled market expansion. While these challenges are not new, awareness of their impact seems to be more acute. Both TeamSAI and ICF International stressed the importance of devising innovative solutions to adapt to the challenges of the current market and those expected in the future.

They also warned that MROs need to build a better understanding of customers’ buying behaviour and the circumstances in which they operate. With the balance of power in the aftermarket sector shifting eastwards, this is a timely reminder for European service providers that they should perhaps be concentrating their expansion efforts outside their traditional base.

MROs and OEMs alike are feeling the pressure to lower costs while delivering higher service levels and better value. The advice from yesterday’s sessions was to pre-empt market nuances and fluctuations, effectively navigate the changeable situation and carefully plan for all eventualities.

This seems to be good advice in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. It will be interesting to see who acts on this advice and who fails to adapt.

* If you are interested in learning more about opportunities in Eastern Europe, MRO Network is hosting its Airline E&M: Central, Eastern & Southern Europe event on October 28-30. For more information visit

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