Polish MRO Still Cautious About Traffic Recovery

Credit: Linetech

Europe’s total daily flights in early June were still down 84% from pre-crisis levels, according to mba Aviation. Only Latin America showed so deep and prolonged a slump. Counting only intra-European flights and tracking activity through June 21, activity is slightly better, down 80% from pre-crisis levels, according to RadarBox.

Either way, the European recovery is real, but slow and hesitant. And that means the region’s independent MROs are still proceeding cautiously. “Even though restrictions are lifted, there’s still at least a little stagnation in the market,” says Jakub Linda, spokesperson for Poland’s Linetech Aircraft Maintenance. “Many operators leave aircraft that require checks grounded, others wait for the market to react.”

Linetech believes this situation will continue till the end of June, and maybe early July, as not all Europe is equally open for international flights. “Intra-European capacity will rebound surely, but we see that many people are scared of flying,” Linda says. Linetech has been keeping busy mostly with cargo airlines during the lockdown.

And Linetech’s supply chain has still been its weakest link in maintaining capacity. Custom and border agencies are less busy with the personal protective and medical equipment now, but borders remain at least partially closed.

Operators are deferring some deliveries of non-essential parts. Linetech expects supply chain relief in less than two weeks.
Most operators that stored aircraft with the MRO are slowly taking them back to the skies. Currently, most parked fleet can be seen at Linetech’s sister companies, JAT Tehnika in Belgrade and Adria Tehnika in Ljubljana. “Some await checks, some are parked, and some, at Ljubljana, are going to be salvaged and scrapped,” Linda says. “We offer aircraft teardowns.”

The MRO has had to reduce its workforce slightly, but retained its most experienced staff. Apprenticeships and rehiring will be possible after the crisis, with top engineers still on staff, even though these can be expensive. Linetech has applied for help from governments and is waiting for decisions.

Linda says his MRO’s plan has been to slow cash burn for at least a few months for two reasons. It did not want to depend on bailouts, so planned for the worst-case scenario. And liquidity is key to offering line maintenance during the summer.

Meanwhile, Linetech has teamed up with Poland’s travel agency, ITAKA, to demonstrate that air travel is safe, discussed high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, face masks and disinfection. “It’s very important for us to support airlines and operators in information campaigns,” Linda says.