Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services (LBAS) celebrated its 10th birthday in Berlin on Saturday night with news of an expansion plan that will see the joint venture grow its production capacity more than 30 percent over the next five years.
By then, the Schönefeld airport where LBAS is headquartered is due to have been transformed into Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, with the existing Tegel International and historic downtown Tempelhof fields slated for closure.
Hosting the celebrations at Tempelhof, LBAS managing director Andreas Kaden said that since the company’s founding in 1997 as a 51:49 joint venture between Lufthansa Technik and Bombardier, it had grown from a standing start to a 150-strong work force.
“Schönefeld was unknown in business aviation then,” Kaden said, “and business aviation was unknown in Lufthansa Technik, so that was the start of a new era in terms of both location and corporate structure.” Since its inception LBAS has been a turnkey service provider for all Bombardier business aircraft except the Learjet 20 series.
In November 2005 ExecuJet took a 20 percent stake in the joint venture from Bombardier and last year opened an FBO next door to the main LBAS hangar. “That has added a whole range of synergies,” Kaden said. “ExecuJet represents Bombardier as a sales agent and the FBO at Schönefeld is something pure MRO providers typically can’t do for their customers.” ExecuJet operates a Learjet 60 from Schönefeld “and we hope there will be many more aircraft to come,” he added.
LBAS has outgrown its original hangar and has rented another dedicated to Learjets. “It’s a good thing last winter was warm, because we had a lot of work outside,” Kaden commented. “That’s why we have established satellites in Frankfurt and Munich.” The company provides line maintenance on Challenger 604s in Munich, while its operation in Frankfurt is mainly to support a major customer with a 604 and a Learjet 60, with two more 604s to come.
LBAS works two shifts with reduced weekend shifts and provides 24/7 standby support to handle unscheduled maintenance and AOGs all over Europe and Middle East. “About 20 times a month we travel to a customer’s base,” Kaden said. “In business aviation a malfunctioning lavatory can be an AOG, and if somebody doesn’t want to move the aircraft without the lavatory working, we go there.”
The evening was an emotional one for Bernhard Conrad, founding father of the venture and its first managing director, who is being replaced as chairman of the supervisory board by Dr. Hans Schmitz. Ten years ago Conrad was managing LHTs activities at the three Berlin airfields, he said, and the idea for the venture arose out of an accidental meeting with some Bombardier managers who were looking for a European service center.
“It was difficult work because we had to start from scratch,” he recalled. “At that time Lufthansa didn’t really recognize this kind of aircraft as part of its business–there were no Lufthansa private jets then. So LBAS helped them into the soul of this business.”