Christian Haas, Lufthansa Technik

Q&A: Lufthansa Technik On Kicking Off South African Operations

Christian Haas, Lufthansa Technik technical operations director for Comair, speaks to Daniella Horwitz about the new maintenance partnership.

In May 2019, the first two Lufthansa Technik Maintenance International (LTMI) stations providing maintenance to South Africa’s Comair began operations. [LTMI is a 100% subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik (LHT) responsible for line maintenance operations outside of Germany.] Where are these stations located and what type of maintenance do they provide?

In Johannesburg, a maintenance hangar with adjacent offices and warehouses is located at Denel Aviation behind OR Tambo Airport, while a ramp office is located at the airport terminal. Full line maintenance home-base support of Boeing 737NG and MAX aircraft below C checks will be conducted. In Cape Town, the maintenance station is located within the terminal at Cape Town International Airport. Line maintenance support of Boeing 737NG and MAX aircraft will be conducted, mainly transit support, AOG recovery and night-stops with daily checks.

Eric Venter, Comair CEO, says LTMI is bringing a new maintenance methodology to South Africa, which hopefully will spread to other maintenance stations. Would you please expand on this?

LHT creates the maintenance schedule in a way that work packages can be put together more flexibly and according to the needs of the flight-plan of the customer. There are no fixed weekly or A checks any more, which reduces aircraft ground-time. In addition, the concept of non-maintenance transits is introduced, which is an industry standard for many years in other parts of the world.

LTMI has extensive experience setting up maintenance stations in different regions of the world, but this is its first footprint in South Africa. What were the challenges involved?

We had to construct the entire organization from the ground up to build a structure like we wanted and needed to have in place to fulfil our customer contract. It was easier compared to other start-up locations to find good qualified and motivated local staff. It was from time to time challenging to work with the local authorities as processes and regulations are sometimes different to the EASA and FAA world that we are more used to.

Does LTMI plan further expansion into South Africa?

If the right opportunities are coming up, for sure.

There is a shortage of skills in the African MRO sector. How is LTMI working to bridge this gap?

We are providing our employees with comprehensive training and support in the start-up phase with German ex-pats for knowledge transfer.

What is the biggest aftermarket requirement for African MROs?

We see similar MRO services trends for African carriers like for airlines in the other parts of the world. The range is from line maintenance services, like in our collaboration with Comair, to component or engine support and heavy checks. This includes services for mature and next-gen aircraft and engines.

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