Dubai Airshow

Airbus Expands Middle East Presence with Service Center for Cabin Systems

 - November 11, 2019, 6:00 AM
Mikail Houari, president of Airbus Africa and Middle East.

Airbus in late September inaugurated its first cabin electronics service center for the Middle East and Africa. The move comes as part of its drive to further expand its presence in the region and bring technical support closer to its customers. The new facility, which is located at the the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, is the European OEM’s fourth center providing repair and spare part services for cabin components and systems after Buxtehude near Hamburg, Germany, Beijing and Dallas. It is also offering customer onsite technical services such as cabin system training.

“As we have an extensive range of airline and freight customers operating Airbus aircraft in the Middle East and Africa region, Dubai will be an important strategic addition to these key locations for our customer base,” Mikail Houari, president of Airbus Africa and Middle East, told AIN. Airbus is performing “extremely well” in the Middle East with airlines of different sizes and stages in their development using the airframer’s equipment, he said, pointing out that more than 740 Airbus aircraft operate in the region and “over the next decade, we have already signed orders for more than 1,400 aircraft that will land in the fleets of Middle Eastern carriers.”

The Dubai cabin electronics service center will serve airlines based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the wider Middle East and Africa markets as well as customers in India, Houari stressed. The facility’s first customer was Thales and the inaugural airline customer was South African Airways. The new repair and maintenance shop is UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and EASA Part 145 certified.  

The latest Airbus investment “absolutely” will translate into cost savings for operators, vowed Houari. “Airlines using our new cabin electronics service center will benefit from faster turnaround times and improved mean shop processing times. Given the service center’s location in the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, we’re closer to our customers’ operations. As such, customers will receive faster technical support and lower logistical costs for moving spare parts.” Prior to the opening of the new Dubai facility, the cabin electronic components were repaired and certified at the company’s German service center, which is the main headquarters for Airbus Cabin Electronics.

The choice of Dubai appears forthright. It is home of Emirates Airline, the world’s largest operator of A380s and a prospective buyer of 70 new Airbus widebodies. The carrier in February signed an agreement with Airbus for 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s. This deal—worth $21.4 billion at list prices— however, was not yet firm at press time owing to reservations of Emirates CEO Tim Clark about the reliability and performance of the aircraft’s Rolls-Royce engines. Both widebodies have only one engine choice; the Trent 7000 powers the A330neo while the Tent XWB is the exclusive powerplant of the A350XWB.

But for Houari, Dubai is more than Emirates. The mega city is a strategic location for Airbus and it’s in a region where there are huge opportunities for growth and further expansion, he noted. “We first opened offices here more than 40 years ago. Along with its strategic location, Dubai is also well-connected to other parts of the region and the world in addition to offering us a stable environment from which to conduct our commercial activities. Having rigorous aviation safety and security standards and the robust infrastructure, capable of handling our complex, high-intensive operation, Dubai is a natural fit for basing our regional headquarters and launching our new Airbus cabin electronics service center.”

The Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority with its investment incentives proved an additional lever to draw the Airbus investment, the region’s Airbus boss conceded; without spelling out the incentives the company received. For DAFZA director general Mohammed Al Zarooni, the long-term partnership with Airbus reaffirms the body’s “continuous efforts to provide the ideal environment which has been instrumental in driving foreign investment into the UAE." Moreover, he asserted, the Airbus cabin electronics service center aligns “with the UAE’s commitment to localization and plays a key role in the UAE’s economic diversification plans and development of the wider regional aerospace sector.”