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Airbus in maintenance venture with SIAEC

Airbus' CEO Fabrice Bregier says Singapore - with its pro-business environment and other advantages - is unique. He adds that moving beyond aircraft sales is part of the natural progression of the business.
Airbus' CEO Fabrice Bregier says Singapore - with its pro-business environment and other advantages - is unique. He adds that moving beyond aircraft sales is part of the natural progression of the business.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

New firm in tie-up will service customers from across region

Airbus' interest in Singapore goes beyond just selling planes, although that is a key part of its business, said the European plane maker's president and chief executive Fabrice Bregier.

From research and development to pilot training and plane maintenance, Airbus has multiple partnerships and tie-ups with Singapore Airlines (SIA), local tertiary institutions and other industry players.

The latest was announced yesterday: a deal with SIA Engineering (SIAEC) to set up a joint venture firm to service the A-380, A-350 and A-330. SIAEC will own 65 per cent of the new company, with Airbus taking the remaining stake.

The facility will service customers from across the region.

A pilot training school - partly owned by SIA and Airbus - will open at Seletar Aerosapce Park in the coming months.

The Airbus group, with about 600 staff based here, has a significant presence in Singapore, second only to China in the Asia-Pacific, Mr Bregier said.

"We have partnerships in Vietnam and Malaysia and we also have activities in Thailand but not at the same level and depth as what we are doing here," he said.

"Singapore - with its pro-business environment and other advantages - is unique," he added.

Airbus' presence here is part of a larger commitment to the region - one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. About 40 per cent of the firm's total aircraft orders are from Asian carriers and lessors, Mr Bregier said.

SIA, for example, has ordered 67 A-350s, including seven of the ultra-long-haul variant which will be delivered in 2018.

The airline is also waiting for five new A-380s, adding to its existing fleet of 19 of the superjumbos.

Moving beyond aircraft sales is part of the natural progression of the business, and is in line with customer requirements. Mr Bregier said: "Many of our customers want to focus on their core business which is fleet planning and making sure their customers are happy."

There are also low-cost carriers that do not have the engineering capabilities to support fleet maintenance and pilot training, among other business needs, he said.

Mr Bregier said: "This business of course is not the same size as the business of delivering aircraft but it's a good complementary business which contributes to profitability and the growth of Airbus.

"But more importantly, we build bridges with the airlines because they don't just buy aircraft, they buy a service and a relationship. And I think it's good that we do this not from Toulouse (Airbus' headquarters in France) or Germany but as close as possible to our customers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Airbus in maintenance venture with SIAEC'. Print Edition | Subscribe