As the world’s second biggest MRO market behind North America, Europe is naturally a continent awash with aftermarket players large and small. However, despite benefitting from a healthy volume of work, capacity constraints are an ongoing concern for many. As a result, solutions are being sought either through new hangar space or operational improvements.
This year has seen some of the continent’s largest providers look to address these issues. Germany’s MTU Maintenance, one of the world’s biggest independent engine MROs, has looked to add capacity across its shop floors through the planned addition of two buildings to provide expanded space in its Hanover facility along with a planned logistics center in Berlin, providing an additional 35% in production capacity. Another European giant, Switzerland’s SR Technics, has focused on operational improvements in Zurich to make its shop leaner and better equipped to deal with demand.
Home to growing fleets of low-cost airlines, line maintenance services are also seeing a spike in demand across Europe. This week, the continuing trend of capacity growth continued with Czech Airlines Technics (CSAT) the latest European company to add to its capacity with the addition of a new line maintenance hangar at Václav Havel Airport in Prague. The facility covers lower level maintenance checks and is designed to house one Boeing 737, Airbus A320 family and ATR turborprop aircraft.
CSAT says that with the construction of the space opposite another existing hangar, capacity for base maintenance, which accounts for more than half of its revenues, has also increased as a result. This summer, the company’s chairman Pavel Hales told MRO-Network.com that it also expects expansions to its components capacity soon.
Along with capacity, improving efficiencies are also on the agenda, according to Hales. “Next year, we will invest in the RFID technologies and continue in stages, purchase new software for job and human resources planning and invest in mobile devices, alongside other projects,” he said.
While well-resourced companies are growing capacity, the surge in MRO demand looks likely to have a trickledown effect and benefit smaller specialists who focus on more mature aircraft such as the 737 and A320 along with their engines and come with some capacity to spare.
Speaking to MRO-Network.com in September, Holger Lipowsky, a partner at consultancy Roland Berger, says the market for smaller independent MROs has become more positive in the past few years owing to demand on legacy airframe and engine programs. He sees smaller players as essentially being the providers of the extra capacity needed on legacy airframe and engine programs, instead of focusing on the next-generation models.