Africa’s biggest and most profitable carrier, Ethiopian airlines is aiming to replicate the success of its Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), facility in West, Central and Southern Africa.
The airline which operates the biggest MRO facility in Africa, with an annual revenue generation of $80 million, said it is seeking viable partnership to kick start the process of establishing maintenance facilities in the regions.
Speaking to journalists in Lagos, Thursday, the airlines’ Chief Operating Officer, Mesfin Tasew, said the establishment of MRO facility requires huge capital commitment which some African airlines may not have the capital to start, stating that Ethiopian airlines has invested heavily in its maintenance hangar.
He said: “We are ready and willing to support African airlines with respect to MRO service. Because it requires investment to establish an MRO facility which some Africa airlines cannot afford. It also requires trained human resource, we don’t so many schools to train Africans as aircraft technicians, aircraft engineers, pilots and it takes time and experience even if you have the money, you have to get trained people. And even if you have trained people you need some experience to do that.
“So most African airlines are small, they can’t afford to have their own MRO facility, so they need support. And Ethiopian airlines is here to support them in different ways. One approach is while they do the airline operation we give what we call total maintenance support.
“It means we can send our people here or at their location to maintain their aircraft. We can also deploy spare parts at their location, so that they can focus on transporting people and goods. But at the same time, as they grow we encourage them to start developing their own MRO capabilities little by little.”
“For example, initially they can do what we call line maintenance service. It means they can have few qualified certified engineers, when the aircraft flies to do small checks. Then as they grow further they can do major airframe maintenance. They can establish small shops like wheel shop to repair their wheels, battery shops and the likes.
“But they need support on major repair of airframe, engines spare parts repair. We can support them from Addis Ababa. This is how we think we can better support them. Regarding engine maintenance, it requires very, very high investment. They can’t afford it but Ethiopian airlines have invested a lot at Addis Ababa. So they don’t have to invest on that.
“On the other hand because we are located in east Africa to get closer to the airlines, we will like to establish MRO facilities in West Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. But to do that we need partners who have the local knowledge and who can work with us” he said.
Commenting on open skies for Africa, Tasew stated that 80% of Africa’s air traffic is carried by none Africa carriers while 20% is shared among African carriers.
He pointed out that the African air transport market has huge potentials for carriers in the continent adding that only partnering among each other can they take reasonable share of the market.
“You might have heard from different sources that today around 80% of Africa traffic is carried by none Africa carriers. It means Africa’s share is only 20%. That 20% is carried by Royal Air Maroc, Ethiopian Airlines Egypt Air, South African Airways and the others are very small airlines. So there is a big market for African airlines. We have to take our reasonable share from this market and we can take the share only when Africans partner”.