Hong Kong’s CASL Continues Digitalization
Like Singapore, Hong Kong is extraordinarily dependent on the international travel that has been cut most sharply in Asia-Pacific—and independent MROs have been hit hardest.
“As much as we wish demand for aircraft maintenance to rebound, unfortunately we do not yet see business getting back in shape,” says Wong Chung Yuen, senior spokesman for Hong Kong’s China Aircraft Services Limited (CASL).
CASL’s customers at Hong Kong International Airport do not have domestic destinations. Their flights are limited by international travel restrictions, and maintenance and preparation are not picking up as fast as overseas MROs that serve airlines with domestic markets.
As a result, airlines in Hong Kong have 90% of their fleets parked, a portion Wong expects will start to decline gradually, but only in 2021.
CASL offers a wide range of services, including base maintenance, line maintenance, ramp services, cabin services, supply chain management and business jet maintenance. The MRO now expects its line maintenance to increase in the middle of 2021, while heavy checks improve over the 2021-22 period. But Wong cautions, “This is based on the assumption that a vaccine will be available and made effective by then, which will lead to a reduction in travel restrictions and other preventive measures such as 14-day quarantine requirements of travelers.”
Nevertheless, Wong says CASL has tried to retain valuable talent despite the demand drop. “With government support, we have been able to retain a vast majority of our staff. Redundancy is always the last approach to consider,” he says. Headcounts have been temporarily frozen, and Wong does not expect any new hiring until late 2021.
The MRO has been both pushing staff efficiency, and organizing internal and external events to promote employee well-being. And, unlike many hard-pressed MROs, CASL has not ceased a major IT project for digitalization. “The (Ramco) system will go live at the beginning of 2021, and CASL will become a fully digitalized MRO by then, which will give us a competitive edge in efficiency,” says Wong.