Sri Lanka plans aircraft repair hub with Lufthansa

Lufthansa aircraft sit on the tarmac at Frankfurt airport on July 12, 2013. Sri Lanka's national airline announced on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013, that it plans to set up a regional aircraft repair hub with the help of German carrier Lufthansa. -- FILE PH
Lufthansa aircraft sit on the tarmac at Frankfurt airport on July 12, 2013. Sri Lanka's national airline announced on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013, that it plans to set up a regional aircraft repair hub with the help of German carrier Lufthansa. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's national airline announced on Wednesday that it plans to set up a regional aircraft repair hub with the help of German carrier Lufthansa.

The aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul operations will be a centrepiece of the new US$209 million (S$265.2 million) Mattala Rajapakse International Airport which opened in March, officials said.

Sri Lankan Airlines said it was working out details with Lufthansa AG's maintenance arm, Lufthansa Technik, to open the repair facility at the Chinese-built international airport in the island's south by next July.

"We are in discussions to finalise our business plan and work out the equity to be put into the new venture," Sri Lankan airlines chief executive Kapila Chandrasena told reporters in Colombo.

He said the facility would be developed as a regional centre for repair and maintenance of Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft and they hoped to service about 110 aircraft annually.

He said Airbus was also providing some US$25 million worth of repair equipment as part of a package to buy 10 new Airbus aircraft that would be delivered to Sri Lankan Airlines starting in October 2014.

The national carrier, which lost an estimated US$190 million in the financial year ending March 2013, has signed a deal to buy six new Airbus A330-300 aircraft and four of the latest Airbus A350-900 jets as part of a major renewal of the ageing fleet.

The airport and its surroundings - around 1,000 hectares - have been earmarked as a tax-free zone for foreign and local investors to set up warehouses, maintenance hangars and other industries.