SINGAPORE 2016: Lufthansa Technik to fill narrowbody ‘gap’ in Asia-Pacific

Lufthansa Technik (LHT) is planning to expand its narrowbody base maintenance in the Asia-Pacific, according to its CEO Dr Johannes Bussmann (pictured).

“It is a missing element,” he noted, responding to questions after outlining the company’s position in the region.

Bussman reported that the company had better figures for 2015 than 2014, though he could not comment further due to being in the quiet period leading up to the publication of the results. LHT now has around 800 customers – including 15 completely new ones in the last year – with 3,700 aircraft under exclusive contracts.

“Even though fuel prices are low, markets are soft,” he commented with regard to the whole airline market. “The demand is good, but yields are going down. We need to watch to see if a conservative approach to capacity remains or if, with all the orders, too much gets put into the inventory and causes another drop in yields.”

Bussmann expects the split of work volumes and market shares to shift so that by 2020, the Asia-Pacific will be the largest for both parameters. And with that expected growth in the region, the LHT presence will grow (it already has 4,000 employees without Ameco Beijing). Already LHT Philippines has further expanded its hangar capacity, while LHT Shenzhen has almost tripled in size over recent years.

The key market trends, according to Bussmann, involve the entry into service of new aircraft and engines – “a game-changer in the MRO market” as well as new models of co-operation between the OEMs and other MRO suppliers.

Strong airline competition from low-fare airlines are stimulating the further individualisation of business models and maintenance needs. “There is a need for flexibility,” Bussmann noted. “We find that LFAs come up with some quite different ideas which drive the way we work with these airlines.”

LHT sees a trend of heavy investment in new repair technologies and damage detection, for example delamination in composites, the CEO continued. “We now have around 100 people working full-time purely on developing repairs, in particular mobile repair systems where the work can be done locally.

“There is also a move to digitalisation and mobile services, and to Big Data analysis and predictive maintenance,” he added.

The company has been preparing for new aircraft such as the 777-X A350, 737 MAX, A320neo and C Series. Bussmann confirmed that with the last two types – each powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower engines – entering operations with the Lufthansa Group this year, it is likely that LHT will also look to maintain the other platforms using PurePower engine variants (Embraer E-Jets E2, Mitsubishi MRJ and Irkut MC-21).

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/

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