Brussels Airlines’ aircraft maintenance strategy reflects the carrier’s twin objectives of delivering high-quality service at competitive prices, explains spokesperson Wencke Lemmes. Decisions to perform maintenance in-house are based on two criteria.
The first is cost. “If we can leverage the market with sufficient high-quality providers, then we outsource the activity, for example components, engines and heavy maintenance,” Lemmes explains. The second criteria is impact on service. “If the impact on service, such as dispatch reliability is high, we prefer to keep full control over the activity.”
Based on these criteria, Brussels only uses in-house resources for Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) activities and line and light maintenance at its home base. All other maintenance activities are outsourced.
To perform limited in-house work, the carrier employs about 300 employees in its maintenance and engineering department at Brussels Zaventem. Lemmes says the airline has no plans to change its approach to maintenance, but it constantly looks for opportunities for improvement.
Any changes in maintenance employees or facilities in the next five years would depend on the evolution of the airline’s fleet, which currently consist of 35 Airbus A319s and A320s, 10 A330s and three Sukhoi Superjet 100-95s.
However, Lemmes says even replacing the limited number of retiring or departing staff is “very difficult.” To change this, the airline started a junior mechanic training program two years ago. The program, spread out over three years, according to Lemmes, is “a combination of on-the-job and classroom training.”
Fortunately, “Brussels Airlines is a well-known brand in Belgium, so we easily attract the best students.”