MANILA - Lufthansa Technik Philippines is betting on the anticipated recovery of the aviation sector to boost the demand for aircraft maintenance, repair and operations (MRO), its CEO said Wednesday, as its new hangar in Manila nears completion.
The $40 million Hangar 1A is expected to become operational by the first quarter of 2022, which will help expand the capacity as demand picks up, Lufthansa Technik Philippines president and CEO Elmer Lutter told reporters in a virtual press conference.
The project was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting restrictions that grounded planes worldwide last year. It was originally set for completion in September 2020.
With 9,000 square meters total area, Hangar 1A will add 25 percent to LTP's capacity as well as create 275 jobs, the company said. Once completed, it will be the firm's 4th hangar, it said.
Hangars are currently full with aircraft waiting to be served by "very able Filipino workers," Lutter said.
"The community thinks that we will come out relatively soon with the help of vaccination drives that’s why airlines bring back aircraft from storage...Aircraft maintenance precedes the restart," Lutter said.
"We are pushing for the completion because we think demand will come back sustainably. We think the indication shows us that we see the recovery coming strong, as many aircraft come out from parking," he said.
Lutter said LTP sees the trend where smaller planes are being recommissioned instead of the big ones as flight passenger demand remains depleted, Lutter said, adding that they are also shifting their attention and capacity to service smaller planes.
During the briefing, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the project is among the "many signs" that the country is recovering.
"We are proud to note that as we gradually ease the travel restrictions, Lufthansa Technik AG along with MacroAsia Corporation is on its way back to normal operations with expanded capacity to accommodate the servicing needs of an increasing number of aircraft," Lopez said.
Due to the opening of the Hangar 1A, the company is likely to start "rehiring" mechanics and other staff soon.
LTP was forced to cut its workforce by 700 last year, which brought the total workers to 2,700.
"By next year we will go back to 3,400," Lutter said.
Lufthansa Technik Philippines is ajoint venture of the Hamburg-based Lufthansa Technik AG and MacroAsia Corp.