The recent signing of the agreement between Lufthansa Technik Malta and Malta Industrial Parks Ltd will enable Lufthansa Technik to expand its current facility by building an additional hangar that will be able to service a larger number of wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft simultaneously, the company’s CEO said in comments to The Malta Business Observer.
The €25 million investment was instigated by the aviation masterplan of the Maltese Government seeking growth options for the aviation sector, and provides Lufthansa Technik with the opportunity to consolidate business in one building.
“Work is already underway,” said Marcus Motschenbacher, CEO of Lufthansa Technik Malta. “The existing spaces occupied by Lufthansa Technik are currently separate and this masterplan provides the opportunity to consolidate business in one building, by extending the existing one.
The secondary building will be closed only once the extension is complete, and working.” The actual planning phase for the project has been completed, he underlined. “We have signed the agreements; we have gone through all the stages of approval, which include the local board, the group board and the investment board of the group,” the CEO continued.
“The designs are ready, and we have placed the application at the Planning Authority. We have also made some preparatory works on the site, clearing it and cleaning it.” The first level of excavations will take place before the end of the year, “and then we go full blast ahead at the beginning of 2020,” said Mr Motschenbacher.
The estimated timeframe for the project to be complete is 18 months, and Mr Motschenbacher is confident that it will be fully operational by mid-2021. “It’s not just a swap. It is a redesign of our operations. We are currently able to work on three transcontinental aircrafts, and, with the new hangar, we will be able to do four of them, with an additional five of the smaller aircrafts, such as the A320,” he explained.
The expansion is testament to Lufthansa Technik’s confidence in the local aviation masterplan, as well as the local workforce, and will generate more high-quality jobs, he stressed. The outfit has been in Malta for 16 years, and Lufthansa Technik was a pioneer in the local aviation industry. “Before us, there was only Airmalta, so we were the first aviation company to put our footprint here between 2002 and 2003,” said Mr Motschenbacher.
“Back then it was a good marriage. Germany was under pressure from its major customers in that it was becoming too expensive so we were looking for a more cost-attractive solution, and the business development arms in Malta were offering those attractive solutions.”
Mr Motschenbacher, who has been CEO since August 2016, also praised Malta’s geographic position; the good level of spoken English, and the genuine craftsmanship found locally. He explained that, for the expansion of Lufthansa Technik to be made possible, such intrinsic aspects needed to come together.
The CEO’s educational and work background stands him in good stead in this current role. He spent 18 years in Hamburg working at Lufthansa Technik’s headquarters before being posted to Malta. He has a joint Master’s degree in Business Administration and Mechanical Engineering from the Universities of Darmstadt and Berlin, in Germany, as well as a double diploma from Toulouse Business School. He has been employed with Lufthansa Technik since graduating just over 20 years ago.
“You fall in love with a location and you want it to flourish. You want it to grow. Does growth necessarily mean you build a hangar? Not necessarily. You can grow the size of the workforce; you can grow your customer portfolio; and product portfolio,”said Mr Motschenbacher. “We decided to go for all of them together, because Malta has acquired a very good reputation, started by my predecessor and continued by myself.”
To conclude, Mr Motschenbacher commented that the new venture gives Lufthansa Technik the opportunity to have a strong, forward-looking, future-proof, major operation in Malta, and to further enhance an already attractive portfolio with a stable workforce and more possibilities for digital innovation. Moreover, it allows for the broadening of expertise on different aircraft and more sophisticated methodology within the workforce.
This article initially appeared in the November edition of The Malta Business Observer.