US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing Company is scouting for a foreign partner for its $100 million (Rs428 crore) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nagpur, Maharastra, because it thinks Indian avionics firms do not have adequate experience in the business. Air India, which ordered 68 Boeing aeroplanes two years ago, will be the company’s second partner in the facility that will be spread over 75 acres. Work on the MRO is set to start in July.
“The only two companies that have elaborate aircraft maintenance (infra)structure in the county are Air India and Indian (Indian’s expertise is more on Airbus aircraft) and so we are looking for foreign partners. We are in talks and a decision is expected before the groundbreaking ceremony (in July),” said Dinesh Keskar, vice-president of sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He did not specify the companies with which Boeing is in talks.
France-based Airbus and US-based Boeing, the largest manufacturers of commercial aircraft in the world, have announced plans of setting up MROs after receiving large orders from state-owned carriers Indian and Air India. The country is also witnessing a boom in the airline industry in terms of passengers, flights, and aircraft purchases. Until now, Indian airlines that needed MRO services would fly to centres in Southeast Asia. “Apart from Air India, we certainly want SpiceJet, Air Sahara and Jet Airways, which have our fleets, to use the new MRO facility. But more importantly, we want it to be a regional hub,” said Keskar.
Unlike Air India, Airbus has not invested in an MRO (it doesn’t invest in any) but is only “witness to the wedding”, as its global executive vice-president Kiran Rao puts it. The company will help its largest local customer, Indian (formerly Indian Airlines) build a Rs300 crore MRO facility in collaboration with Bangalore-based Jupiter Aviation and Logistics.
The location for this facility is yet to be announced.
The Maharasthra government has already cleared the land for the MRO project at Nagpur and will provide access to roads and power supply to the Boeing facility but will not have any stake in the company.