The Ruag group has streamlined its business aircraft maintenance facilities as part of its response to posting a net loss in that sector of approximately $103 million for 2009 compared with a net profit of $50 million in 2008. However, Ruag Holding CEO Lukas Braunschweiler pointed out that the loss is allocated entirely to its aircraft component manufacturing division, where low-cost competition is exerting strong pressure on prices.
The cumulative profits achieved by all other sectors, including executive aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), could not compensate for those losses,
he said. The company hopes to return to profitability next year, he indicated, following additional restructuring, including some possible layoffs in component manufacturing.
Ruag employs a staff of some 7,500, with 1,860 of them working at Ruag Aviation. In addition to its home base in Switzerland, Ruag operates facilities in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Sweden and the U.S. It reported sales of approximately $1.65 billion in 2009, up from $1.54 billion a year earlier.
The group has divided its former aerospace division into space and aviation units–the latter comprises Military Aircraft Services and Ruag Business Aviation. Profits in most divisions were lower than in 2008, especially in the business aviation unit, which was recently reorganized. As part of that reorganization it closed its Zurich facility in February, and so now offers MRO services only at Geneva, Bern and Lugano in Switzerland, and Oberpfaffenhofen in southern Germany.
Peter Guggenbach, head of Ruag Aviation, explained that the concentration on four sites is motivated by the need to strengthen business in sectors where the company is most successful. To that end, Ruag Aviation will concentrate its efforts on executive aircraft manufactured by Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer and Piaggio. It generally has eliminated Gulfstream maintenance from its portfolio, although the Oberpfaffenhofen facility will continue to support the largest Gulfstream jets, as well as Embraer Legacys.
The company also has shifted most of the Dassault Falcon and the Embraer Legacy business from the closed Zurich unit to Geneva and it has relinquished maintenance of several Gulfstream types, formerly carried out in Zurich, to Swiss rivals such as Jet Aviation and Altenrhein Aviation.
The Ruag Geneva unit, formerly Transairco, has a long-standing record of excellence for maintenance of the entire Falcon line. It also offers maintenance for the Bombardier Learjet 31/35, Hawker Beechcraft King Air series and the 400XP jet, plus the Pilatus PC-12. The facility has a large paint shop and offers cabin refurbishment in collaboration with the Austrian interior outfitter List. And finally, the FBO there offers handling for executive aircraft with its own customs and immigration.
The Ruag Oberpfaffenhofen unit, which was taken over from Dornier in 2003, is one of Europe’s largest and oldest Cessna authorized service centers, offering maintenance of the entire line of Citation jets. It also is an authorized service center for all Bombardier types except the Learjet 31/35 series, as well as Dornier turboprops and the Do 328/Envoy jet. In fact, this division holds the type certificate for the smaller Dornier 228 and has relaunched production of the utility twin. Oberpfaffenhofen also offers refurbishing and has a paint shop large enough for aircraft up to the size of the Boeing Business Jet.
The shop in Lugano provides maintenance for the Bombardier Global Express and Global 5000; the Falcon 50, 900 and 2000 series; and King Airs, as well as locally based piston singles and twins. The facility recently was appointed an official service partner for the Italian Piaggio P180 Avanti twin pusherprop. It also plans to become a service center for Citation jets based in southern Switzerland and northern Italy.
Bern is home to a small Ruag maintenance shop that mostly provides line and scheduled maintenance for aircraft based in the area or regularly using the airport. It is authorized to maintain Bombardier Dash 8 series and Global Express, as well as the Dornier 328 series.