With new services, aerospace giant seeks to improve after-sales services
Customizing cabins
Published: Apr 20, 2017 07:53 PM

An Airbus aircraft Photos: Courtesy of Airbus

Francois Mery 


Bruno Bousquet

Earlier this month, Airbus launched Airbus Interiors Services, a new service that offers to help airlines with their cabin upgrade development strategies.

The services will have three lines of business: tailored equipment, upgrade solutions and innovative products.

It is the latest step for the Europe-based aerospace company to improve its after-sales services in the global market.

Airbus is also considering an alliance with maintenance repair overhaul (MRO) service companies around the world to provide a better end-to-end solution. The alliance is expected to be announced in June 2017 at the Paris Airshow.

"Such a big fleet needs different partners to have a close cooperation, no matter it is from the airlines, manufacturer, suppliers or MRO," said Bruno Bousquet, vice president of customer services for Airbus Commercial Aircraft China. "Providing safe maintenance is quite a challenge, and security is always the first in the aviation industry."

For example, Airbus offers improved sharklets for winglets, but the modification is usually done by an MRO. Through a strategic partnership with MROs, Airbus can provide package services to customers including service announcements, retrofits and modifications, Bousquet said in a group interview in Beijing on April 13.

In 2016, Airbus received 731 net orders for commercial aircraft, including 41 A350 XWBs and 83 A330s, according to the latest data. At the end of 2016, the company's net book-to-bill ratio was above 1, while its order backlog reached a record of 6,874 commercial aircraft.

From 2013 to 2016, the number of Airbus aircraft operating in China rose from around 900 to about 1,400. The figure could reach 2,000 by 2020.

Airlines are constantly under pressure to cut costs and improve efficiency. Consequently, most have focused more and more on core activities and on finding trusted partners to add value to their businesses by deploying innovative solutions and advanced technology.

"We offer a large area of services in China because we believe that in addition to providing customers with aircraft, we could bring Chinese customers more value-added activities," Francois Mery, COO with Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, said at the same interview.

In the past, airlines were responsible for maintaining their own aircraft. But that began to change a decade ago.

Over the last 10 years, demand has grown among airlines for manufacturers such as Airbus to provide aircraft maintenance and services to optimize aircraft operations.

Bousquet said Airbus gradually got into this business by offering cabin modification services, flight hour services and technical information management for maintenance programs.

"The expansion of the [Airbus] fleet is a challenge for every partner, but the challenge is positive. To face that challenge, our relationship with every supplier has turned into a strategic partnership. We can grow stronger only when we cooperate closely," Bousquet said.


GT: Recently, China has established new airlines such as Qingdao Airlines and Loong Air. They all have an Airbus fleet. What special support does Airbus provide for them?

Bousquet: Before they receive the planes, there is a series of specific work to ensure that the aircraft arrive in their hands when everything is ready. In addition, we have a special advisory team for the engineering maintenance at their base for two months to ensure that the operation can be carried out smoothly.

GT: We know Hua Ou Aviation Training Center just celebrated its 20 anniversary in 2016. Could you share more of your development plan for China?

Bousquet: The establishment of Hua Ou has built a profound base for our customers. It has trained a large number of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers, including crews for A320 and A330 aircraft. In the future, we will launch training for the A350 XWB as the aircraft is quite successful in China. In addition, we will also have composite materials training, not only for Chinese customers, but also for customers from Asia.

GT: Is there any progress on the passenger to freighter project?

Mery: We are making progress on our partner. So far, the passenger to freighter project is for A320 and A321, and the first passenger to freighter will be launched in 2019. We know Chinese market has such demand, and the passenger to freighter project is about to launch in Guangzhou [capital of South China's Guangdong Province].