Last month’s collapse of Thomas Cook Group has had knock on effects for the UK's MRO industry with one of its maintenance providers announcing it is set to close all operations by the end of this year.
Morson Aircraft Engineering Services (MAES), which set up in September 2018 as the MRO offshoot of technical recruiters Morson Group to offer EASA Part 145 approved line maintenance services, is in the process of closing seven UK-based line stations as part of a phased operation.
Line stations at Belfast, Bristol, East Midlands Airport and Newcastle have already closed, while operations at Birmingham, Gatwick and Glasgow will cease by the end of 2019, Scott Wells, director of MAES confirmed to Aviation Week.
Wells says Thomas Cook Airlines accounted for around 75% of the maintenance provider’s customer revenues. As of early October, its customer base was comprised of nine airlines in addition to work carried out on an ad-hoc basis for carriers. In addition to Thomas Cook, other airline customers included Virgin Atlantic and Latvian carrier SmartLynx.
Wells says the airline's liquidation meant the business was unable to continue. “MAES commenced operations in partnership with Thomas Cook Airlines, but we sought to diversify our revenue quickly and, in our first year of operations, sealed contracts with seven other airlines,” he told Aviation Week. “While this was an excellent start to the growth and development of MAES, Thomas Cook Airlines still represented the majority of our revenue and its collapse made it impossible for us to sustain operations.”
The closure has resulted in 80 job losses in technical roles, with around 60 of these employees permanent with the remaining 20 working on a contracted basis. However, Wells estimates around 90% of employees have already found new employment with some having their contracts transferred to other maintenance providers.
“A huge amount of work from the whole team at MAES helped create a business that quickly grew to seven line stations, was tech focused, efficient and profitable," he says. "Our customers were pleased with our service and our staff enjoyed working for us. It is a great shame that circumstances beyond our control brought this to a premature end.”
However, Wells says MAES's parent company will retain its other aviation interests in technical recruitment while its Morson Projects division will continue as a provider of design services including a EASA Part 21J offering.
One continuing legacy of MAES will be its MAES.mobile software, an in-house platform that Wells says it will look to spin off as a product for airlines to use. The software, developed by a team in Manchester, looks to deliver maintenance records and the ability to compete them at the aircraft.
“We are at an early stage of external development for MAES.mobile and are currently assessing market demand before making a final decision on whether to launch it for sale to external customers,” Wells says. He adds the company will decide whether to take it to market in early 2020.