With Basel shop, LHT expands maintenance and completions

 - November 3, 2008, 8:28 AM

Lufthansa Technik, the MRO and completions arm of the German flag carrier, has taken over the maintenance shop of Swiss European Air Lines at Basel EuroAirport. The facility will operate as Lufthansa Technik Switzerland. Swiss is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lufthansa group.

At an inaugural reception on October 1 at Basel, LH Technik CEO August Henningsen said the move was precipitated by the fact that the Swiss maintenance shop had spare capacity, while LHT needs more space to satisfy its growing number of customers. The facility will continue to maintain the Swiss regional fleet–and the fleets of other regional airlines. However, it is expanding its service offerings. In the past the facility worked exclusively on the Saab 340 and 2000, the Avro series and Embraer 50-seaters; now it is adding the capability to maintain the Boeing 737 and A320 series, including the BBJ and ACJ versions. It also plans to offer interior refurbishment of executive aircraft, competing with Jet Aviation on its Basel doorstep.

According to Rainer Lindau, newly appointed head of LH Technik Switzerland, the addition of the new capability will compensate for the retirement of older types, such as the out-of-production 30- to 50-seat Avros, and the eventual declining demand for the larger version. In addition to Swiss, the current list of customers of LHT Switzerland for these types includes Aegean Airlines, Atlantic Airways, Carpatair, Darwin Airlines, Eastern Airways, Finncomm, Lufthansa City Line, Luxair, Polet and Uzbekistan Airways.

The addition of A320 and 737 capabilities is also intended to secure maintenance work from Swiss for its A320-series aircraft, currently under contract at SR Technics at Zurich Airport. In addition, Lindau expects to attract new customers to Basel before year-end. In the past, the share of Swiss in the workload of the Basel facility has varied between 30 and 50 percent. Lindau hopes to maintain the Swiss share below 50 percent, while increasing the overall workload to capacity and creating additional jobs. Work on BBJs and executive A320s is expected to contribute significantly to the facility’s customer base.

Lufthansa has a marked interest in business aviation, as illustrated by the Lufthansa Private Jet executive charter subsidiary, which operates a growing fleet that will include nine business jets by March. The group recently took over Servair, a Zurich-based executive charter company, and Lufthansa Technik jointly operates a maintenance shop at Berlin Schoenefeld with Bombardier and ExecuJet, offering maintenance for all types of Bombardier jets, as well as some Hawker Beech and Citation models.