Dubai Air Show

Sogerma revamps image, jets

 - December 7, 2006, 5:33 AM

EADS Sogerma Services has come to the Dubai airshow (Stand No. C206) with a new strategy that it hopes will balance its books after a period of losses. According to Bernard Pommier, vice president of corporate communications, the key to the future of the wholly owned EADS subsidiary lies with its decision to reposition from its traditional aircraft maintenance business. Today, its operations center around two distinct business units: global fleet support and VIP cabin interiors/airliner seating. However, it would also like to return to the military market, after losing a major contract from the French air force.

Exactly a year ago EADS appointed Michel Freuchet as the new Sogerma Services president and CEO. He aims to balance its books by the end of next year.

The company has already completed five Airbus Corporate Jets and a head-of-state A340 for a customer in this part of the world. After the completion of an Airbus A330 for a ruling family in a Gulf state, it has now undertaken a similar VIP installation for the same client on an A340, including bedrooms and luxury bathrooms. Sogerma also does more workmanlike cabin outfitting jobs, such as a refurbishment of the first- and business-class sections of 12 A330s and A340s for Turkish Airlines.

The reorganization at the Bordeaux, France-based group followed its 2004 loss of €39 million ($47 million) on revenues of €615 million ($738 million). The maintenance sector showed the biggest shortfall following the loss in 2002 of the contract for the French air force’s C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft to Ogma, the Portuguese company purchased recently by Embraer. That left Sogerma with Airbus operators accounting for more than 90 percent of its civil maintenance contracts. It cut its workforce by 190 and now employs 4,100 people worldwide, 3,000 of them in France.

As part of its bid to overcome its high cost base, Sogerma has begun shifting basic maintenance operations to low-cost countries such as Tunisia, where it already runs an A320 maintenance facility at Monastir. But the core global fleet support and equipment maintenance business remains near its headquarters at Bordeaux’s Mérignac Airport.

Sogerma’s “Your Aircraft Global Support” program offers custom-tailored service packages, including traditional maintenance and repair, fleet management, technical services and training, financing and consultancy. Most customers are airlines with up to 15 aircraft, typically Airbuses, including start-up operators needing comprehensive support.

The group’s Sogerma Services division manufactures metallic and composite parts and subassemblies for the A380. It will also supply the A380 with crew, cockpit and passenger seats, including in the cabin’s first- and business-class sections.