EADS’s Malaysian maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE) is hoping to secure Lao Airlines as a customer for Airbus narrowbody and ATR heavy maintenance checks.

SAE CEO, Christophe Desages, says the MRO provider plans to help Lao Airlines develop the capability to handle all line maintenance in-house in return for a contract to conduct heavy checks on the carrier’s two Airbus A320-family aircraft and its ATR fleet.

The airline received its fifth ATR 72 earlier this month and has one more on order.

This will be the first heavy check needed on the A320s; ATR 72 heavy maintenance currently is assigned to Bangkok Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

Lao Airlines VP Sengpraseuth Mathouchanh tells Aviation Week that the airline has been using AEPS in Laos for line maintenance, but that Lao Airlines wants to form a joint venture with SAE for line and heavy maintenance.

He says Lao Airlines recently took possession of a new aircraft hangar at Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport, which the joint venture could use for aircraft maintenance.