Aircraft Maintenance Firm to Set Up Malta Base

MEDIA ROOM

A new aircraft maintenance company is to be set up in Malta by Swiss-based SR Technics with assistance from Malta Enterprise and Malta Industrial Parks. The new investment was announced at a press conference this morning by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech.

Maintenance of commercial aircraft

The company will focus on the maintenance of commercial aircraft. It will initially use an existing hangar at Luqa airport before building its own facilities. The first aircraft will be received in the second half of next year. Major low-cost airline EasyJet will be the company’s biggest client, with its 157 aircraft being serviced here.

The company is projected to employ 350 people by 2014. Gulf-owned SR Technics is one of the top aircraft maintenance companies in Europe, headquartered in Zurich. It recently concluded a 10-year aircraft maintenance deal with EasyJet.

Prime Minister Dr Gonzi hailed the investment. “This investment is another significant and concrete step towards achieving our country’s vision for 2015 which includes establishing Malta as a centre of excellence for high-value added industry,” Dr Gonzi said when announcing the investment.

Malta – a regional hub of aircraft maintenance.

“Over the past few years, Malta has fast established itself as a regional hub of aircraft maintenance. Following this new investment, employment in this industry is expected to be above 1,100.”

He said that throughout the current economic crisis, the government had made it a priority to not only protect existing jobs but to encourage companies already in Malta to continue investing and creating more job opportunities.

“Although Foreign Direct Investment is shrinking worldwide our country is still managing to attract investment to Malta.” The government, he said, had intensified its efforts to bring new high-value added activities to Malta in those niche sectors which it believed the economy could sustain in the long term. Aviation maintenance was one of those sectors.

“This morning we have a strong show of confidence in Malta’s potential and in its workers by companies of the international calibre of SR Technics and EasyJet. Their presence here will in fact compliment an already-healthy and growing aviation cluster. They join other prestigious names in the sector such as Lufthansa Technik, Rolls Royce, MCM and Medavia. They also strengthen Malta’s engineering tradition, a sector in which high quality projects abound with more than 5,000 people employed.”

This investment, Dr Gonzi said, was evidence of Malta’s successful efforts to diversify its economic base thus reducing the risk of being too dependent on particular sectors.

“Over the years, we have already successfully moved into the pharmaceutical and ICT sectors and we are now sealing our position as a leading destination for aviation engineering, confirming that Malta can attract good quality industry and it is still competitive on the international market.”

Attracting high-quality foreign investors of international repute

He said tailor-made investment support packages by Malta Enterprise had been instrumental in attracting high-quality foreign investors of international repute. Packages did not only include fiscal and tax incentives but also office space to suit the investors’ needs.

For this investment to materialise, SR Technics would be able to build the largest hanger on the island – a four-bay facility to handle its operations in the medium-to-long term, and to upgrade already-available facilities for the short-term. Dr Gonzi thanked Mr Fenech for his leadership in managing the processes with SR Technics and EasyJet that has resulted in the choice of Malta as their preferred investment location.

EasyJet’s Technical Director, Ian. Davies, who was present for the press conference, said that the airline had a €1.6 billion agreement with SR Technics which would see the airline reducing its costs by 17 percent. He said that by 2012 EasyJet would have a fleet of 207 aircraft.

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said the deal was also being announced at the London Stock Exchange and the Dubai International Airshow. The agreement, he said, included investment of €40m in new hangars. The hangars will be built by Malta Enterprise, which would get its money back over a 30-year lease agreement.

Andre Wall, SR Technics’ Chief Operations Officer, when asked whether the Malta plant would replace disinvestment in Ireland, said that this was expansion as well as restructuring of the company’s international operations. He praised Mcast for its worker training and said he was confident that sufficient resources would be found in Malta.