Can you give us a brief introduction to SR Technics and your investment in Malta?
SR Technics started as the technical department of Swissair. Today, we are a world-leading maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider, offering our customers comprehensive and fully customised solutions for the technical support of their aircraft fleets, engines and components. We set up a shop in Malta in 2010, largely on the strength of an agreement with easyJet to perform heavy maintenance work for the airline. With a favourable legislative framework and competitive costs, the country has become an ideal base for aircraft maintenance. Today, the service portfolio in Malta is focused on the maintenance of the Airbus A320 family and shortly adding the Boeing 737NG, offering flexible and reliable solutions for our customer’s fleets. In cooperation with our partner aviation cosmetics, we also provide Lease-End Transitioning Services (LETS).
Malta is your main airframe MRO base. Why did you choose Malta?
The country has developed a strong and diverse aviation sector that has a lot of support and understanding from the government. Our commitment to the country is demonstrated by the latest expansion project of our Malta operation. We are building a new six-bay hangar set across some 30,000 square meters in an area known as Park 4 in the Hal Farrug neighbourhood of Luqa. The new state-of-the art infrastructure is designed to help meet increased capacity for heavy maintenance, C-checks and cabin modifications, capable of housing up to six narrow-body aircraft simultaneously. Expected to be completed in Q1 2020 for the first three bays, the project will create up to 300 new jobs, adding to our existing team of around 300 people in Malta; and transform local operations into a Centre of Excellence for SR Technics base maintenance.
SR Technics Malta
What are the big challenges for SR Technics at the moment?
Our customer’s fleets are aging and growing fast. New generation airplanes, which are more efficient and reliable and therefore require less maintenance will be added to the fleets, but older airplanes will not be retired at the same rate. We are therefore experiencing an increased demand for quality maintenance capacity in the region. New technology puts added pressure on MRO providers and has created an increased need for qualified specialists. The planned expansion is set to drive considerable demand — we will need to hire up to 400 people in the next three to five years. Around 50% of the workforce will be attracted from abroad, especially aircraft licenced engineers. SR Technics sees this as a very good opportunity to further expand our reach and help with strengthening and supporting the global MRO business landscape.
What can be done to meet the increasing demand for qualified specialists?
We are exploring alternative solutions, one of which is to develop the workforce we want to hire. We have teamed up with the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) that is providing courses that focus on the aviation maintenance field to prepare the necessary skilled workforce. To meet our requirements in the long run, we also decided to extend our recruitment to Europe. We have recently signed a cooperation agreement with an Italian College and continue to work with others in order to attract students from aviation schools to us. This has proven to be successful in the UK with SR Technics before, and we would like to recreate this model.
SR Technics Malta
How should Malta be developing in terms of MRO and are there any particular areas it should be targeting within the overall aircraft sector?
The government should focus on attracting leasing companies, this would certainly benefit MRO providers and create a one-stop shop for the entire industry. There would also be a lot of opportunities for us if there were business jet companies based in Malta. This way, we would be able to carry out commercial line and base maintenance during the winter months and flip over to business aircraft maintenance during the summer months. Additionally, the country would need to invest in education to sustain our industry.
Looking forward, what are the most attractive regional locations for SR Technics?
We are committed to continuing growing in Europe. We are also continuously evaluating new market opportunities to strengthen our global presence, one of them being Southeast Asia. We are already present in Kuala Lumpur and certainly plan on further extending our presence in this area. Soon, our new training centre in Kuala Lumpur will open its doors and we are looking forward to educating new generations of aviation technicians and specialists.
Jakob Straub, Senior Vice President Aircraft Services and Line Maintenance at SR Technics, started his career as a mechanical engineer at Swissair back in 1978, and since then he has held several global leadership roles across the company. From 2009 until 2013, Jakob led Jet Aviation Zurich before returning to SR Technics. Jakob holds degrees in aircraft engineering and general management.