New Malaysian MRO Gets Base Maintenance Approval

Credit: Sapura Technics

International flights are still dramatically down in Southeast Asia. For example, daily flights out of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport were still down nearly 80% from year-ago levels during the week of September 17-23, according to RadarBox. 

That makes things especially tough on new independent MROs in Malaysia. Less than 200 miles to the south of Kuala Lumpur, at Johor Bahru’s Senai International Airport, two-year-old Sapura Technics is now offering line and heavy checks on Airbus A320-family jets and Boeing 737s. 

The MRO hopes for more business soon. “We are seeing some signs of recovery from August 2020 after a bottom dip in July,” says Sapura sales and marketing leader Syahril Shariff. “Airlines in Malaysia are starting to reactivate their stored aircraft as domestic travel picks up and the pandemic lockdown is in recovery mode,” Shariff says. 

Shariff expects Southeast Asian countries with strong domestic markets, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, to recover faster. But borders between the Southeast Asian countries are still closed, except for the bubble for limited flights between Singapore and Malaysia.

Shariff says a recent spike in COVID-19 daily cases in Malaysia makes it even harder to estimate how long the recovery will take. He hopes the Malaysian government continues to quarantine only affected areas, not the whole country, so travel can recover. 

The Sapura marketer says many C checks were postponed when disruption began in March 2020. “As air travel picks up, we expect airlines to put these aircraft through C checks in anticipation of market recovery.” 

Sapura received its base maintenance approval from Malaysian authorities in May 2020, and hopes to secure base maintenance jobs from the local airlines when the market recovers. 

The new MRO has not been parking aircraft so far, as lessors only park aircraft with MROs that have either FAA or EASA approval. Sapura has applied for EASA approval and expects to get it in the first quarter of 2021.

Whenever the recovery does come, the MRO will be ready. Sapura has so far retained all of its staff, even with austerity and cost-cutting measures in place. It is still planning to add more staff over the long term.