ST Aerospace building new facility in China

Guangzhou facility, ready by next year end, will beef up firm's aircraft-repair capabilities

Riding on growth in the aircraft repair and maintenance business, Singapore Technologies (ST) Aerospace is building a new facility in Guangzhou, China, to be operational by the end of next year.

The company, which currently operates out of leased premises at the airport, will start constructing the new facility soon, said chief commercial officer Jeffrey Lam.

ST Aerospace has already bought a 147,000 sq m plot - about the size of 13 football fields - which can accommodate four big hangars.

Each hangar will be able to hold two wide-body and one smaller aircraft. This is bigger than the existing facility, which can fit only one big and two smaller planes.

Guangzhou, where airframe repair and maintenance works are carried out, is ST Aerospace's second facility in China, after the first in Xiamen, where engine repairs are done. The company also has hangars in Singapore, Europe and the United States.

ST Aerospace is also continually beefing up its capabilities as new aircraft and technology enter the market. From next month, the company will start work on the Boeing 787, which has been flying for about a year now.

Mr Lam told The Straits Times that with the world's aircraft fleet "growing at a very good pace", ST Aerospace - already a key global player - is always on the hunt for new expansion and other opportunities. "It is more likely though that we will look outside of Singapore since we already have a good-capacity base here," he said.

Singapore, with a tight supply of land and labour, is also a challenging market for expansion, he said.

Industry experts expect that over the next 20 years, about 37,000 new planes will be delivered globally to airlines and individuals.

With the demand for air travel in the Asia-Pacific set to outpace the global average, more than a third of these planes are expected to end up in this region.

This provides ample opportunities for firms like ST Aerospace, they said.

Apart from just ramping up capacity, it is also critical to find new, more productive ways to do the work, Mr Lam said.

ST Aerospace is also continually beefing up its capabilities as new aircraft and technology enter the market. From next month, the company will start work on the Boeing 787, which has been flying for about a year now.

New repair and overhaul capabilities are being set up in Singapore, Mr Lam said.

Going forward, ST Aerospace will continue to focus on not just aircraft repair works but also new areas such as the design and fitting of aircraft interiors.

He said: "We are looking at opportunities across the entire industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'ST Aerospace building new facility in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe