[Avionics Today April 11, 2014] Germany's Lufthansa Technik has signed an agreement to build a new aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico will oversee the operations at the facility, which will provide MRO services for short and medium haul aircraft. With plans to eventually run a total of five overhaul lines, the facility will initially field two lines for Airbus A320 C-checks and D-checks.
Lufthansa officials have already confirmed commitments from JetBlue and one other major U.S. carrier to use the facility for overhauls.
“This is very exciting news for Lufthansa Technik, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and for JetBlue as well,” said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger. "JetBlue is better served as well, with an additional heavy maintenance business partner located in the Caribbean, where approximately 30 percent of our network operates," said Barger.
Lufthansa Technik CEO August Henningsen says the new location will be an important element in his company's long-term growth strategy and presence in the American market. The German company currently has three locations in the U.S. in addition to subsidiary Lufthansa Technical Training, which has partnered with the University of Puerto Rico to provide training for aircraft mechanics and engineers for regional aviation workforce development.
Puerto Rican officials call the new agreement a major one that helps its growing aerospace industry, which has already seen major companies such as Honeywell, Infotech and Lockheed Martin open facilities on the island over the last decade.
Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico Alberto Baco said he believes the new facility is just the beginning, and that the island has the infrastructure to support even more aircraft maintenance facilities. "We have the space and the runways to develop 10 to 20 more hangars in Puerto Rico," said Baco.