Sri Lanka emerges alternative hub for aircraft maintenance (With Images)

February 18th, 2009 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo/New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) A Sri Lankan aircraft maintenance firm has bagged the contract to conduct sophisticated checks on aircraft of Indian budget carrier IndiGo in what experts believe could trigger similar moves by other carriers in the subcontinent.
IndiGo said Wednesday it has awarded an aircraft maintenance contract for ‘C’ checks to SriLankan Engineering, the aircraft maintenance arm of the country’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines.

The ‘C’ checks, a more rigorous maintenance drill as opposed to ‘A’ or ‘B’ checks, are performed after some 2,500 flying hours and places the aircraft totally out of service till the overhaul is completed.

Such checks on IndiGo aircraft will be performed at the facility’s main hangar complex at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, SriLankan Airlines said.

IndiGo, one of the larger budget carriers in India, started operations in August 2006 and operates 125 flights a day to 17 cities, all within India. The private airline has a fleet of 19 Airbus A320-200 aircraft.

Even before it commenced operations in 2006, IndiGo had placed orders worth $6 billion for 100 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft during the 2005 Paris Air Show. It is expected to take delivery of all the 100 aircraft by 2016.

“We are delighted IndiGo is the latest long-term customer of SriLankan Engineering,” said Manoj Gunawardena, chief executive of Sri Lankan Airlines.

“We are now ready to carry out work for all airlines in the region, and it is our intention to develop our maintenance, repair and overhaul facility to be a centre of excellence,” Gunawardena added.

“Normally, Indian carriers go to countries like Singapore of Dubai or aircraft check,” said G. Bhatura, director general of the Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism, a Delhi-based think tank on aviation and hospitality industries.

“Any airline will like its aircraft to be serviced at a closer destination if the rates are competitive. It also depends on the quality of service offered. I think this opens the doors for other carriers, too, to look at Sri Lanka,” Bhatura told IANS.

SriLankan Engineering has gained experience over the years in handling the aircraft manufactured by European consortium Airbus Industrie and the US Boeing, but also others that fly to the Bandaranaike International Airport.

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