SAE hits turbulence

Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE)’s plans to be a major maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider for Airbus A340, A330, A320 and 737-300/400 aircraft has hit turbulence.

At one of the annual Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI) meet three years ago, a top cargo boss from Lufthansa outlined the three important factors that hindered the growth of air cargo in India. He put it simply as: “Infrastructure,infrastructure, infrastructure.”

SAE has failed to secure the certification of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for MRO work for Airbus aircraft. SAE’s management could not be reached for comments and a request for an interview with the company’s chief executive officer Syed Budriz Putra drew a blank.

The company which started operations in October 2007 is located at the KualaLumpur International Airport (KLIA).

It is a joint venture between Syed, a Malaysian businessman and low cost airline AirAsia. Syed holds 81 per cent stake while AirAsia has the remaining 19 per cent.

Even before it started operations SAE had the AirAsia group of airlines’ contracts for A320 and B737-300 aircraft, and AirAsia X’s A330-300 in the bag. With SAE’s failure to secure the EASA certification the contracts are now up for grabs with several MRO companies said to be bidding for the business. Singapore-based ST Aerospace which had previously carried out the maintenance for AirAsia’s B737-300s has not submitted its bid and declined to comment.