Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and Air Deccan Ltd, two of India’s biggest airlines with about 30% of the market share, plan to start their own full-service aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in the coming year and are in talks with specialized technical operators.
This will be the first time that any private airline will have a dedicated maintenance facility in the country. State-owned carriers such as Air India and Indian have already announced their plans to set up their MRO facilities in association with US-based Boeing Co. and France-based Airbus. Private airlines in India currently rely on South East Asia and West Asia facilities for major maintenance checks that are required every 18 months.
Kingfisher, which completes its two years of launch next month, has a fleet size of 27 aircraft that is likely to increase to 50 in the current financial year, has signed an “in-principle agreement” with Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co (Gamco) to start a new facility that will service both narrow-bodied and wide-bodied planes.
“We are discussing (details) with Gamco of Abu Dhabi,” said the airline’s chairman Vijay Mallya. Kingfisher is already servicing 10 of its Airbus A320 aircrafts at Gamco’s Abu Dhabi facility.
The new MRO is likely to start operations in the first quarter of 2009. Potential sites for the facility include Bangalore, Kochi and Hyderabad airports. Most airlines use hangars at airports for line maintenance, or basic day-to-day maintenance of aircraft.
Bangalore-based Air Deccan, the largest low-cost carrier in the country, is also on the lookout for a technical partner to start its own facility. With a fleet size of 42 aircraft, the airline already has land available to construct its facility in Bangalore and Chennai, where it is building hangars.
Deccan’s managing director G.R. Gopinath said the new maintenance facility will also seek to offer services to other airlines that use Airbus planes, including international airlines.
“We are in talks for partners and it would be wrong to mention the names yet,” he said in a phone interview. A decision on the partner is likely to be taken within the next three months, he said, adding: “India must rightfully become a BPO (business process outsourcer) for aviation now.”