Airbus to add stake in Sepang Aircraft Engineering

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

THE Airbus Group is expected to increase its stake in Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE), a European Aviation Safety Agency-approved company that provides Airbus aircraft support in the South-East Asia region.

SAE CEO Pierre Y Reville said the increase in shareholding is currently being discussed among the interested parties.

“I can’t really elaborate further on when it will take place though,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) at the official opening of SAE second hangar in Sepang.

SAE was established in 2007 and Airbus acquired a 40% stake in 2011 with the remaining shares held by Datuk Syed Budriz Putra and his holdings.

A source close to the industry told TMR that Airbus is expected to buy the entire shareholding in SAE, which is currently a successful maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider in the region.

SAE was pushed into the limelight early this year when AirAsia Bhd was looking to venture into the MRO business with the proposal to acquire shares in SAE worth US$20 million (RM83.95 million).

The move was to help AirAsia grow by having its own MRO outfit to service the fleet.

However, the deal, which supposed to be formalised in January 2017, did not materialise due to an unforeseen factor, as earlier reported by TMR.

While the Airbus-SAE shareholding acquisition is ongoing, its competitor Boeing Co is currently negotiating a 12-year MRO deal worth RM5 billion with Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB).

TMR reported last week that the deal was also in relation to the national flag carrier’s new purchase of the Boeing MAX and Dreamliner fleet.

It is a part of the memorandum of understanding inked between MAB and Boeing to set up a specialist MRO facility in Sepang during Prime Minister Datuk Seri  Mohd Najib Razak’s working visit to the US earlier this month.

“It will leverage on the existing under-utilised hangarcfacilities in Sepang and require additional highly skilled engineering staff to service local and third-party international MRO contracts,” MAB CEO Petter Bellew said in a memo sighted by TMR.

Meanwhile, the opening of second hangar in Sepang, Selangor, last week also commemorated SAE’s 10th anniversary.

The new 12,000 sq m hangar is half the size of the existing facility which mea-sures 37,000 sqm. The new hangar will be able to accommodate one wide-body aircraft or two single-aisle aircraft at one time.

The opening ceremony was officiated by International Trade and Industry Second Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

In his opening statement, he said that Malaysia aims to become the leading aerospace nation in South-East Asia by 2030 and the industry is targeted to generate annual revenue of RM55.2 billion, while creating more than 32,000 high-income jobs.

“In 2016, the Malaysian aerospace industry recorded total revenue of RM12.7 billion. The aerospace exports also recorded the highest value of RM5.53 billion, an increase of 32.6% from the previous year,” he added.