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MRO: The infrastructure of aviation manufacturing in Mexico

There is a plane flying in the sky along with white clouds in the background.
27 Feb 2014

The aeronautic industry in Mexico has become a central force for manufacturers in the country and in surrounding regions. Offshoring in Mexico has allowed a sizable number of international firms to expand their operations and reach consumer markets with greater flexibility due in large part to strong investments in infrastructure and equipment at various maintenance, repair and operations facilities. Without dependable MRO structures and employees, many aviation manufacturing firms would have difficulties achieving the goals they have in producing wholesale aircraft as well as components.

Rebuilding off a strong foundation
According to Manufactura.mx, a website dedicated to manufacturing news in Mexico, Mexicana MRO - formerly Mexicana Airlines - is one company that has realized the need to upgrade and maintain fully operational facilities. Before Mexicana stopped its air travel capabilities, the company maintained a fleet of 115 aircraft at its MRO facilities. However, once it canceled its flight operations, the owners of the MRO facility realized they needed to find an alternative client list to provide services, which they found in LATAM Group - collaboration between Chilean and Brazilian airlines – as well as Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Sky Airline. The 21-acre Mexico City facility can work at a capacity of 200 aircraft, with the potential to expand if the Guadalajara location resumed operations.

As of the end of 2013, Mexicana MRO garnered roughly $35 million in revenue by working on about 90 airplanes flown by South American airlines. This is even more surprising considering the MRO facility is running with approximately 20 percent of its workforce. After Mexicana cancelled its flight operations, a large number of engineers sought work elsewhere, but MRO continues to depend on highly skilled employees to perform maintenance on aircraft manufactured by a number of aeronautic firms, including Airbus, Boeing and Fokkier.

Coming months will be important
February will be an integral month for the MRO servicer as Mexicana will either contest or declare bankruptcy. It's possible that the maintenance facility will come out of bankruptcy as the Eleventh District Civil Court Judge Edith Alarcon, who has presided over Mexicana's proceedings, has accepted a proposal that will inject more than US$26.6 million in capital investments in the MRO base. According to Director of Operations at Mexicana MRO Jorge Jacome, as long as the company receives the proposed financial support it plans to upgrade the current 20 workshops at the facility by adding new equipment, including hydraulic lifts and scaffolding towers.

Because the company has been operating under bankruptcy, there haven't been the needed infrastructure updates, but the new injection of funds should help get the MRO base up to speed. Although Mexicana hasn't disclosed the precise amount of money it would need to complete all projected plans, the company has slated initiatives to expand its existing hangar, which currently accommodates between 4 and 6 aircraft, and construct an additional one if possible. Because Mexicana MRO has been able to generate revenue in spite of its bankruptcy, the path ahead for the company appears stronger than in recent years. The aerospace industry in Mexico continues to expand and many companies are interested in taking advantage of the skilled workforce and strong infrastructure.

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