The 17th MRO Asia-Pacific exhibition which was held in Singapore two weeks ago provided the opportunity to remind everyone who attended that the region had already become the most significant worldwide market for maintenance, with annual spending of around 20 billion dollars, 30% of worldwide MRO expenditure, according to the figures announced by Richard Brown, representing ICF consultancy agency.
This means that for the first time ever, the region has exceeded North America in terms of MRO expenditure; even if the share of its fleet is still slightly less significant (28%), the Asia-Pacific region generally uses larger aircraft (long-haul aircraft).
However, of the 10,000 new aircraft which will expand the worldwide commercial fleet over the next 10 years (including the aircraft which will be taken out of service), 4,700 will be added to the Asia-Pacific fleet, almost equally between China (2,204) and the rest of the region (2,553).
This is four times the increase in fleet size expected over the same period in North America or Western Europe (1 100).
According to ICF again, Asia-Pacific will show considerable growth (+5.6% per year, compared with +4.1% for the worldwide average) and should spend 35.1 billion dollars on its own by 2026, roughly twice the MRO expenditure of North America today.
Still with this 10-year deadline in mind, far and away the greatest share of expenditure will be for engines (42%), followed by components (22%), line maintenance (16%), airframe (11%) and modifications (6.9%). Engine MRO will also show the strongest average annual growth over the period (+6.2%).
For Brian Prentice of Oliver Wyman (Marsh & McLennan), this trend will be even stronger for engine maintenance in the region, with annual growth of around 7.9% between 2017 and 2027.
Brian Prentice also returned to the issues surrounding qualified labour, but the Asia-Pacific region should not see the difficulties which are already affecting Europe and North America above all.
However, Asia will have its own specific difficulties, such as the fact that the strong growth in low-cost airlines will have an effect on carriers' yield and profitability, which will generate pressure on MRO expenditure. According to ICF, everyone involved in maintenance will have to find solutions to meet carriers' expectations, for example by using more recycled parts from dismantled aircraft.
The numerous planes which will be heading into retirement in Asia also constitute another cause for concern, as the region does not yet have many dedicated facilities, like the recent partnership between GA Telesis and Air China which enabled the opening of the first aircraft tear-down centres in China, among five Ameco facilities.