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MRO business sees uptick as air carriers reconfigure fleets

Maintenance technician working inside aircraft. Image: American Airlines

The COVID-19 pandemic may have prohibited commercial airlines around the globe from taking flight, but many have shifted their focus to the tarmac as carriers have put greater emphasis on servicing their grounded fleets.  

While AOG (aircraft on ground) services have decreased due to prolonged aircraft downtime, MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) business has increased as carriers take advantage of the lull to manage their aircraft.

“With fewer aircraft operating around the world, AOG business has dried up. However, MRO service providers have found success down other avenues to keep their businesses going,” said Bob McGhee, director of government and aerospace operations at AIT Worldwide Logistics.

Carriers are reconfiguring their fleets with the help of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Modernization efforts during the pandemic include making the switch to fuel-efficient engines and changing aircraft seating arrangements based on COVID-19 requirements. Some airlines are even retiring a substantial number of units, McGhee stated.

Unfortunately, the ongoing health crisis doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. Travel restrictions are still in effect, constricting air traffic between the North American, European and Asian-Pacific markets. McGhee also noted that some carriers have made moves to regionalize their operations with international routes expected to take longer to recover.

On a positive note, reports indicate that OEM activity is likely to thrive over the next two decades. “With more than 40,000 aircraft on order around the world, the business should pick up after 2020,” McGhee said.

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.