Fast 5: Middle East MRO Rebounds and Sets 40-50% Growth

Ziad Al Hazmi
Ziad Al Hazmi
Credit: Lee Ann Shay/Aviation Week

Ziad Al Hazmi, CEO of Lufthansa Technik Middle East, talks about how the MRO’s services are evolving as customer operations rebound. Lee Ann Shay interviewed him in Dubai at MRO Middle East.

Last year Lufthansa Technik Middle East focused on reorganizing, as well as signing partnerships with companies such as Joramco, Sanad and Killick Aerospace. How’s the business so far this year?

This year we’re already at a higher workload than we were pre-COVID-19. The plan for this year is to increase the available man-hour capacity by 40-50%. The nature of our work is ad hoc and includes nacelles and flight controls, which are not scheduled removals.

We are looking more aggressively at adding capabilities, and we just reactivated Cyclean, our engine washing service, which was slow during the pandemic. So the focus for us this year is increasing capabilities and capacities, as well as investing in more assets.

On the technology front, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Sanad last year, which is kicking off. We’re looking at how can we digitalize our whole process from the parts coming in, with an interface to the customer. So it means digital optical inspections, translating those inspections into a digital form and automating them as much as possible. We want to try to get some smart artificial intelligence behind that to communicate with customers and improve the whole efficiency. We’re also working with some local universities on this.

What specific capabilities are you thinking about adding?

For every major customer that went through this crisis, they looked at their capabilities and wound down some of them. As they ramp up, does it make sense for them to do the same things they did in the past?

Because of this, we are looking at components that customers had capabilities for before the downturn and decided not to bring back. There are 600, 700, 800 components that need regular maintenance for each aircraft type. It’s about looking at which components make sense for us to build up that would help customers’ operations be more efficient.

Have you considered adding scheduled maintenance to balance your business, which is driven by unscheduled maintenance?

With unscheduled removals, the damage could be big or small. We’re now talking with customers about placing our assets with them or at least locally, which is a value add. So when unscheduled removals happen, the assets are close. It’s a way to lower an airline’s investment in parts by having a partner that is doing a risk-sharing model.

Are you also thinking about onsite inspections or mobile teams?

We have that capability within the Lufthansa Technik network from our base here. We can go onsite and do smaller structural repairs, inspections or even engine borescoping. We’re trying to build that up. We recently sent a small team to a customer site to inspect a nacelle and do small repairs. We have the teams here in the region who can do the work and sign off on it.

As you grow your business, how are you expanding your workforce?

When we set up the company we had to bring in experts, who had the knowledge. But now to have sustainable, long-term growth we have to have young people coming in. We have tie ups with local universities and institutions in the region, such as Emirates Aviation College and Abu Dhabi Polytechnic. We’re also offering internships to expose more people to our aviation environment. It’s great that we’re attracting talents who can grow with the company. Out of about 100 people we have 26 nationalities. That’s Dubai, right? It reflects the region and where we are.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.