AirAsia has signed up with Airbus ’s Managed Inventory ( AMI ) system to automate its inventory management at the supplier level for its A320 and A330 aircraft.

The AMI system offers a customized spare parts and replacement service that claims automatic and continuous replenishment of high-usage and non-repairable parts onsite at AirAsia’s home bases.

AirAsia says it is confident the AMI service will support AirAsia and AirAsia X in “paving the way for low-cost aviation through innovative solutions and efficient processes.”

The carrier ’s Group Head of Engineering Anaz Ahmad Tajuddin says that “with AMI we will minimize our spares investment costs while maximizing delivery of specific parts when needed.”

Airbus’s automated inventory system aims to cut stockholding costs by using historical and predictive analysis of spares usage for each aircraft and type , then applying that data to replenishment and logistics operations so it can reduce inventory to a predicted just-in-time basis . This in turn leads to lower holding costs , Airbus asserts.

Airbus says AirAsia is the fourth significant carrier to go for its OEM-driven stockholding management option —something that some regional third party MRO operators and component suppliers are not too happy about.

“The move to OEM-based MRO operations is something that airframers are increasingly pushing,” says Senior Vice President of component services at SR Technics , Felix Amman.

“Airbus says it doesn’t want third-party MRO operators on the A350 . But that means the airlines are then locked into the makers for everything for the next few years. It’s a challenge ,” he adds.

Nonetheless, the predictable costs and lack of inventory costs seem appealing to the LCC operators . By capturing usage information in real-time and triggering auto-replenishment orders within carrier-agreed inventory levels , Airbus says the service guarantees high on-shelf part availability while decreasing the overall unpredictable operating costs.

“But some airlines want to keep their [independent] repair options open. It’s a challenge ,”says Amman , adding that it makes sense for the aircraft owner / operator to have access to its crucial operating data —not just the airframer.

“We believe it’s not only the designer / maker of the aircraft that should get to access and hold important operating data on spares and their lifecycle ,” he adds.

Nonetheless, the trade-off between predictable cash flow and possibly higher ongoing costs seems increasingly attractive to the cost-driven LCCs.

The appeal of a contracted guarantee on parts availability along with less stockholding and less potential downtime equates to increased potential revenue , which is something LCCs are eager to maximize.