Air Transport World

Tops in the third-party world. (airline maintenance)

PARIS--When Groupe Air France was formed in 1990 through Air France's acquisition of UTA and Air Inter, the move not only created what the group says is the globe's third-largest air-transport company but the world's leading airline provider of maintenance services as well.

In addition to work performed on its own fleet, the maintenance division of Groupe Air France (GAF) also rings up $700 million annual third-party sales, making it the leader in that form of servicing as well, group officials say. Factor the newest GAF member, Sabena, into the equation and the group's third-party sales climb to over $1 billion--Ear ahead of second-place Lufthansa's estimated $500 million.

"Third-party serving is a major objective of Groupe Air France today, and it will be as big or bigger tomorrow," comments Michel Taret, VP of the recently formed Groupe Air France Industries unit charged with marketing the maintenance services of Air France Maintenance & Engineering, and UTA Industries. "This is obviously a very important sector of activity for the group and we intend to remain as active as possible in this increasingly competitive market."

Although Taret is unable to provide any unconsolidated net-profit maintenance figures, the total, he assures, is black in color.

"That's why we are here and the reason we continue," he laughs. "The two principal objectives of this [unit] are to give our customers the best possible service and to generate funds that lower the overall costs of the group."

Although the combination of UTA's and Air France's maintenance activities was responsible for catapulting the group into the world's No. 1 position, both carriers have been sold on marketing their services for decades. …

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