MRO Memo: Normality Is Underrated

Travel in England
Credit: Adobe Stock/Zarya Maxim

Even in these typically quiet summer months for the aviation industry, the lack of physical industry gatherings have been noticeable by their absence. Logging onto a digital platform for an interview, event or press briefing remains as much a staple of my daily routine as making a cup of tea.

The fact that large parts of the world are still dominated by COVID-19 has meant travel restrictions have remained in place. While it is undoubtedly positive that some airlines are ramping up their flying schedules while we’ve seen some promising developments in the lifting of cross-border travel restrictions, traveling from London to mainland Europe in COVID times, for example, can be an expensive undertaking and one often fraught with bureaucracy.

Given my aversion to doing things the hard way, this has meant a summer at home for this Englishman to experience some age-old truisms. For starters, I get to enjoy our famous weather—truly the envy of the world. The fact that our football team fell short at the final hurdle at Euro 2020 this summer, once again losing via the dreaded penalty shootout, this time to Italy, was as painful as ever, yet reassuringly familiar. Bad British weather and gutsy England football failure—two things to set your watch by.

Yet, ever the optimist and with dreams of traveling once again, summer will soon give way to fall and, all being well, will see some uptick in physical interactions across the industry as the world continues to open. Advertisements and invitations for in-person trade shows and conferences are starting to reappear with growing regularity in my email inbox.

These include the Dubai Airshow, which as it stands, is scheduled to happen in November. It will provide an interesting insight into some of the short to mid-term spending habits of some of the Middle East region’s main players.

Our own Aero-Engines Europe event is still scheduled to take place in Stavanger, Norway in September as a live event. The premise of the conference will be particularly intriguing, given the rude health in which the engine market found itself pre-crisis, and the subsequent downturn that occurred due to high volumes of engine overhauls and maintenance work being postponed by airlines in the wake of COVID-19.

The mood in the engine segment has been one of quiet optimism for a long-term recovery, but there are very real concerns going forward for the dominant market segment, notably in areas such as long-term capacity and shortages in areas such as manpower.

MRO Europe, taking place in Amsterdam in October, will give a broader assessment of where the European commercial aftermarket is outside of just engines. We’ve repeatedly heard about a “new normal” and how the industry will reshape in the coming years, but the growing belief is that this change is already upon us. The question now is how the industry has changed, rather than if. Getting to assess this change by traveling to a familiar setting will be a welcome feeling.

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.