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Aircraft maintenance industry sees new airports driving growth


By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

THE government’s plan to upgrade airports or build new ones is expected to open up opportunities for the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry, Dornier Technology said.

“With the new airports being built, we expect airlines to grow their fleets even more, which means more demand as well for our base maintenance from domestic carriers,” Dornier Technology Chief Operating Officer Joseph M. Espiritu told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview.

A new international airport is being built in Bulacan, while Cavite province is currently preparing to start building Sangley international airport.

In his first address to Congress in July,  President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said he hopes to provide a boost to the tourism industry.

“We will first and foremost make basic developments such as road improvements for easier access to tourism spots. We will also upgrade our airports and create more international airports to help decongest the bottleneck at the Manila airport,” he said.

Dornier Technology expects to operate in 15 domestic locations by 2025, according to Mr. Espiritu.

The company currently operates in Clark, Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Kalibo, Caticlan, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, and Davao.

“By the end of this year, we are targeting to add another line maintenance station to cater to the requirements of our domestic customers,” Mr. Espiritu said.

“By 2025, we are targeting to operate in 15 domestic stations in collaboration with our partner Transnational Aviation Support Services,” he added.

The demand for low-cost and all-in aircraft maintenance services solutions, he said, is at an “all-time high” as airlines look for ways to sustain their operations.

The company described its performance for the first half of the year as “almost comparable to 2021.”

“Beginning of this year, we are very proud to announce that we did our first (Airbus) A320 C-check. And as of this writing, we are doing our second A320 C-check,” Mr. Espiritu said, referring to an extensive scheduled maintenance inspection process that typically takes the aircraft out of service for several days.

“For line maintenance, we have reactivated our line stations in Bohol and Kalibo,” he noted, adding that the company now also services three South Korean carriers: Jeju Air, Air Seoul, and Air Busan.

For the second half of the year, he said the company expects a further surge in MRO demand.

“Our projection is that we will end the year very strong, with demand for base maintenance slots increasing in preparation for the Christmas peak season,” Mr. Espiritu said.

“Now that Dornier Technology has serviced most of the local airlines, we are gearing towards the global market by amplifying our capabilities and certifications to enable us to cater to clients outside the Philippines,” he added.

Dornier Technology is positioning itself as a “center of excellence” for base maintenance of turboprop aircraft like the ATR family of aircraft, made by a joint venture between Airbus SE and Leonardo SpA; and the Dash-8 line, made by Dehavilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd.

It also has the capability to service narrow-body bets like the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

“During the pandemic, our base maintenance was focused on the ATR C-checks; but at the beginning of this year, we have started to do base maintenance for the Airbus A320,”  Mr. Espiritu said.

“We have two hangars in Clark, and we are looking at fully utilizing both hangars (operating a simultaneous line for both turboprop and narrow body),” he noted. “We will also expand our current hangar to add additional slots to our operations in Clark.”

Regarding manpower shortages, rising labor costs, and a lack of experienced workers, he said: “We intensify our efforts for talent acquisition, retention (in terms of people engagement), and skills development.”

“We are also proud to announce the establishment of Dornier Academy, which (will provide) a steady supply of technical talent and also support the talent needs of the industry through various training programs.”

Airlines in the Philippines, Mr. Espiritu also noted, are bringing in newer and more technologically advanced aircraft. “Dornier considers the technological advancement as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Opportunity to further expand our capabilities to include the new generation aircraft.”

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