Etihad Airways aircraft and hangar Etihad Airways

Gulf Carrier Cooperation Or Consolidation?

Even the previously fast-expanding major Persian Gulf carriers have found the past two years tough going for a variety of internal and external reasons. Will the tightening of belts lead to consolidation in the marketplace—either among the airlines as a whole or their engineering operations in particular?

National pride is strong in the region, and the prospect of one airline being swallowed by a neighbor is slim, as several Arab airline CEOs made clear at last November’s annual meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organization in Cairo.

However, MRO operations are largely “under the radar” as far as the general public is concerned, and cooperation is a possibility. A memorandum of understanding signed by Gulf Air and Etihad Airways last November, for example, includes MRO as part of a wide-ranging portfolio of activities where the two carriers may come together.

But this remains something of an exception to the rule—for the time being, at least.

For example, the past two years have seen an increasingly close convergence of operational services between Emirates Airline and its low-cost carrier stablemate Flydubai, but this does not yet include mutual assistance in servicing or overhaul—at least not on a formal basis.

“Emirates supports Flydubai’s maintenance requirements on an ad hoc basis,” an Emirates spokeswoman says. “This arrangement predates the codeshare partnership between both airlines.”

Flydubai handles all line maintenance and A checks in-house, as well as limited workshop services including some repairs through its continuing airworthiness management organization approval, a spokeswoman tells Inside MRO. Its heavy maintenance work (C checks) is done by a third-party supplier, Jordan Aircraft Maintenance Ltd. (Joramco).

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