Lufthansa Technik eyes regional expansion


 Lufthansa Technik eyes regional expansion

Lufthansa Technik is one of the world’s leading providers of maintenance, repair and overhaul services, and is extremely active in Asia via several local joint ventures. Richard Haas, the company’s director of sales for North-East Asia, speaks with Asian Aviation’s Andrzej Jeziorski.

Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) giant Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has long been active in the Asia-Pacific region. The company operates several local joint ventures, including well-established Chinese MRO service provider Ameco Beijing – 60 percent owned by Air China, with the rest held by LHT’s parent Lufthansa.
Also in China is Lufthansa Technik Shenzhen, which specialises in aircraft thrust reversers and other high-value components made from composite and bonded materials. In Manila, Lufthansa Technik Philippines acts as a centre of competence for MRO of Airbus A330/340 family widebodies and is 51 percent owned by LHT. Elsewhere in Asia, LHT has its wholly-owned Lufthansa Technik Services India unit in Bangalore, and its Airfoil Services joint venture in Kuala Lumpur, divided evenly between the German company and MTU Aero Engines.

Most recently, in 2008, the company set up a 50-50 joint venture with Australia’s Qantas in Melbourne, called LTQ Engineering. The company specialises in technical support for CFM International CFM56 and General Electric CF6 turbofan engines.
Asian Aviation recently spoke with LHT’s Hong Kong-based regional sales director, Richard Haas.

Q: What sets Lufthansa Technik apart from its rivals in the MRO sector?
A: “Being a European-based MRO company, the big difference between us and our European competitors is that we have a lot of production sites in Asia. Ameco is one prominent example, being the first joint venture of that nature. But it’s not limited there – in China we have LTS – Lufthansa Technik Shenzhen – active, we have the LTP [Lufthansa Technik Philippines] operation down in Manila, [Airfoil Services] in Malaysia [for] engine-related component repairs. Then we have our latest activities down in Melbourne, where we have a joint venture with Qantas. So I think our commitment towards this region is manifested by the many operations which are already in place.

Q: Why the focus on Asia?
A: “For us, Asia represents growth. But we also realize that we cannot do the growth necessarily exclusively out of Europe, so we have to establish production platforms to serve this segment in Asia, which we have consequently done over the last many, many years. So we believe we are well-positioned to participate in this growth market, by also having production units here on site.”

Q: Are you finding it easy to find sufficient qualified staff in Asia?
A: “It’s very individual from platform to platform. Usually we tend to invest a lot in training. So, we do have very heavy involvement in training in Ameco, there’s the Ameco Aviation College there, then we have Lufthansa Technical Training in the Philippines, also doing more or less our own training there. And so we understand that if we don’t have the qualified people, we won’t be able to offer the quality we need to do in order to support our brand. And, obviously, our brand is very closely linked to quality.”

Q: Do you find there is a danger of qualified employees leaving for more lucrative jobs?
A: “I think in general we are an attractive employer, so people want to work for us. We always have the danger that if there’s a well-trained guy, there’s a danger he may go and work somewhere else. Experience, you cannot buy – experience you have to work for. But I think we do have that pretty much under control.”

Q: Impact of recession was severe on the industry. Is the MRO industry benefitting from the recovery in passenger and cargo demand?
A: “There’s always a certain time delay. We always say in our industry that cargo is a very clear indicator, from the very beginning, if the industry is in trouble. It’s always a cycle, so that’s why in the Lufthansa Group we are always looking at our different business segments [for indications of market trends]. Yes, the growth potential for sure is there, but also competition is very strong as well. For us it’s important to stay [aware] and do our best to participate in that growth – especially the growth in this region.”

Q: Are there further expansion plans for Lufthansa Technik in the region?
A: “In terms of new locations, expansions, yes, there are. Maybe not so much with additional locations, but I think there are always chances to increase our presence in the respective platforms where we are already. And we do have projects running in the individual locations, such as Manila, to expand our activity there. But nothing which can be specified at this time.”

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