Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wants to see AirAsia giving more of its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work to Malaysian service provider rather than outsourcing the work overseas.

Noting that “AirAsia is the single biggest operator of Airbus A320s,” Najib said, “we need to convince these companies [AirAsia and its suppliers] to expand Malaysia’s market share in maintenance, repair and overhaul,” Najib said during his speech at the official opening ceremony today for the LIMA Airshow in Langkawi, Malaysia.

He says the government has been ensuring that there is a pool of local talent that will help attract and support a growing aerospace industry in Malaysia. Najib cited as an example the establishment this year of the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre, a new high-tech research lab that will work to develop new technologies for the aerospace sector.

AirAsia over the years has outsourced Airbus A320 heavy maintenance work to MROs outside of Malaysia, such as Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero), and it has contracted its Airbus A330 heavy check work to Lufthansa Technik Philippines in Manila.

But AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in August signed a collaboration agreement that included MRO work.

MAS Aerospace Engineering CEO Roslan Ismail says the company is certified to do heavy checks on A320s and A330s and has been working to win over AirAsia. But he says no contracts have been signed yet because MAS group’s collaboration agreement with AirAsia still has to be approved by anti-trust regulators. Another issue the two parties have to contend with is that AirAsia may already be locked into long-term contracts with other MRO service providers.