Bangalore/Mumbai: Jet Airways (India) Ltd and Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, two of India’s biggest airlines, plan to locate their maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities at the new international airport being built in Bangalore. Apart from their own aircraft, the two companies plan to use their MROs to service the planes of other airlines that will operate from the airport.

Talking shop: Albert Brunner, chief executive officer of Bial.

Bangalore International Airport Ltd (Bial), the company building the airport, said it was holding talks with the two airlines for setting up MROs. “These are the only companies we are in negotiations with," said Albert Brunner, chief executive officer of Bial. He did not set a time-frame by when a deal would be concluded.

A May 2006 report by the Aeronautical Society of India, an industry body, said the Indian MRO market would exceed $1.1 billion (Rs4,367 crore) in revenues by 2010.

“A good Indian airline is better than a foreign airline or a company (from the point of view of setting up an MRO at the airport)," said Brunner, adding that with a maintenance base, the local airline can use the airport as a hub for its global operations.

Executives at both the airlines confirmed plans for MROs in Bangalore. “We have asked space for a hangar (for MRO operations) at the yet to be launched Bangalore airport," said a senior executive at Jet Airways, who did not wish to be identified.

“That (MRO) is the plan in Bangalore," said Vijay Mallya, chairman, UB Group, of which Kingfisher is a part.

Kingfisher Airlines is in talks with international partners for its MRO and (this project) would be finalized before the airport opens, Mallya said. The airline will also make Bangalore its global hub for operations, he added.

Kingfisher Airlines has an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co. (Gamco) for an MRO in India.

Jet currently has a hangar to get ‘C’ checks, or maintenance checks, done once in 18 months at the existing airport in Bangalore, which is owned by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The HAL airport will cease operations once the Bial airport, 35km away from the city, opens for business in March. Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal had said in October that the company was looking at sites in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Nagpur for setting up an MRO facility.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (Ghial), the company building the new airport in Hyderabad, said the airport would have MROs of Lufthansa Technic AG, the maintenance division of German carrier Lufthansa, and public sector carrier Indian Airlines.

“Jet is not talking to us," said C. Shankar, a spokesperson for Ghial.

Indian Airlines and Air India merged recently to create a company called National Aviation Co. of India Ltd (Nacil). The company has a maintenance hangar at the Begumpet airport, which it would shift to the new airport after the existing one ceases operations, Shankar said.

The Kingfisher-Air Deccan combine owns a fleet of 78 aircraft made by Airbus SAS and turboprop aircraft of ATR, while Jet and its subsidiary JetLite operate a fleet of 91 aircraft made by Boeing Corp. and ATR.

“(Once finalized) both of them (will) have exactly the same contract, (they should) provide the best service and (at a) competitive price (to airlines)," said Brunner, adding that the airport has space for four maintenance hangars.