Airbus, Boeing chase lucrative after-sales service market

Airbus and Boeing may have built their global success on the back of transcontinental airliners, but they are now eyeing a lucrative, if rather less glamorous, side of the aviation sector in their battle to dominate the skies - parts and repairs.

While booming demand for air travel has seen the world's top plane makers ramp up production, it is the multibillion-dollar after-sales service market that is taking an increasing amount of their attention. The aircraft titans are aggressively expanding their presence in the sector, which is dominated by maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft but also covers other services, from training to parts supply.

The European and American firms have long done some business in after-sales support, but they are now moving to win greater market share and take on other players like Germany's Lufthansa Technik and United States-based AAR Corp.

"The services market is more lucrative than actual aircraft sales because it has more potential and covers many different spectrums," said Mr Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation research firm Endau Analytics in Malaysia.

Boeing predicts that the value of the approximately 41,000 planes that will be delivered worldwide over the next 20 years will be around US$6 trillion (S$8 trillion) - while the demand for services to support this fleet will be worth around US$8.5 trillion.

In Singapore, Airbus' wholly owned subsidiary Satair Group has an 11,000 sq m warehouse to house spare parts. They can be dispatched from the warehouse - Airbus' biggest such facility in Asia and second-biggest in the world - within four hours of receiving an order, with plans to further slash the waiting time.

Airbus, whose revenues from services hit US$3.2 billion last year, 18 per cent higher than in the previous year, plans to expand the facility by 8,000 sq m next year. Both Airbus and Boeing also have major pilot training centres in Singapore.

The fierce rivals play up their intimate knowledge of the aircraft they produce as an advantage in providing after-sales support over others that could provide the services, including the airlines themselves.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Airbus, Boeing chase lucrative after-sales service market'. Print Edition | Subscribe