After 2-yr delay, Lufthansa Technik PH opens new hangar, looks to expand operations

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2022 03:13 AM

MANILA—The Philippines’ leading aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider aims to expand to the rest of the country and the region amid renewed growth in global air travel, as it opened a new hangar in the Manila airport on Friday.

The completion of Lufthansa Technik Philippines’ (LTP) Hangar 1A at the MacroAsia Special Economic Zone in Pasay City had been delayed by 2 years due to COVID-19.

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The P40-million project broke ground in late 2019 and was initially set to be operational by September 2020 until lockdowns grounded flights and slowed construction.

Elmar Lutter, LTP president and CEO, said their new flagship hangar would help generate new jobs and opportunities for local aviation workers.

He added that the 22-year-old company is optimistic to grow the business once more.

“We are looking to expanding our footprint further and if you look around here, we have reached our limits at NAIA so we are actually looking beyond Manila already,” Lutter said during the formal opening of the hangar.

“We will seek discussions with possible partners and explore possibilities within the Philippines and beyond, with the end in mind to bring affordable high-quality MRO to the region and deliver reliability and safety to our customers.”

LTP services aircraft from not only Manila but also other major Asian airports such as Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The 9,000-square-meter hangar adds 3 lines to LTP’s existing 7 base maintenance lines in Manila and increases its service capacity by 20%.

It can accommodate both narrow-body aircraft and long-range jets, including the world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380.

“The flexibility of this hangar is something we take pride in. Its ability to be dynamic to service different requirements of our customers to support their success in an ever-changing market, that’s how we envisioned this hangar,” said Rainer Janke, LTP’s vice president for marketing and sales.

“There can be no more perfect time to have Hangar 1A available for the upcoming demand which we are expecting when air travel is bouncing back.”

Cabinet members Sec. Jaime Bautista of the Department of Transportation and Trade Sec. Alfredo Pascual joined the opening event, as did Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

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Pascual said LTP’s expansion is opportune for the Philippines’ goal as an aerospace industry hub in the Asia-Pacific for manufacturing, avionics, and after-market services.

Exports in the Philippine aerospace sector reached $407 million in 2020 despite the pandemic and is projected to reach $2.6 billion by the end of 2022, he added.

“LTP’s trust and confidence in the Filipino workers’ skills and dependability and their presence here elevates our country’s own aeronautical capability and status to world-class level,” Pascual said.

“We fully recognize that beyond LTP’s massive investment in this massive structure, beyond the additional headcount, this is also a long-term investment wherein the Philippines reaps additional capacity in building the country’s high-value pool of engineers and technicians.”

For transport chief Bautista, a former president of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, the hangar is a signal for others in the public and private sector to continue investing in infrastructure and other development projects.

“As we take advantage of the momentum of the economic rebound in the post-pandemic era, it is crucial for us to build on the strengths of our domestic aerospace industry. This is very possible because of our very strategic location in the Asia-Pacific, the promising growth and expansion of domestic airlines, and the abundant suppliers and networks of aircraft manufacturers, among others,” Bautista said.

LTP, which currently employs over 2,600 Filipinos across 6 sites in the country, will be hiring at least 275 more workers with the new hangar.

In 2021, LTP laid off 300 employees due to the pandemic’s effects on air travel.

But it said then the layoffs would be temporary until the industry “fully recovered”.

LTP is a joint venture between German-based Lufthansa Technik AG and the Philippines’ MacroAsia Corporation.