The Indian government has been pushing to establish India as an MRO hub in the last few years, offering many incentives to build facilities in India. Kolkata Airport has been quick to jump on the opportunity.
As the name suggests, MRO includes maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft. During their life, planes require near-constant maintenance, ranging from checks before every flight to engine maintenance every year or so, to heavy maintenance every few years. Additionally, aircraft may have to be repaired in case they are damaged in any situation, a comprehensive task that can take a while. In India, only Air India has its own maintenance operation, while other airlines outsource their work. The Center wants to use Kolkata Airport for repair and maintenance of aircraft. Of the eight airports recently selected, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata are among them. There are maintenance-repairing-overhauling (MRO) centers around the world for aircraft maintenance. To push MRO activities for aircraft and helicopters in the country, the ministry has identified eight airports for attracting investments to set up MRO facilities. The eight airports are those at Begumpet (Telangana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Chandigarh, Delhi, Juhu (Maharashtra), Kolkata (West Bengal)and Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh).
India currently has four MROs in Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu, Kochi and Nagpur. The centre wants to increase the number. Because it is not possible for these four centres of the country to maintain all the planes that are flying in the sky of the country now. As a result, many aircraft have to fly abroad for maintenance.
The officials of the Ministry of Aviation explains that the more MROs are created in the country, the more it will be possible to maintain the aircraft on the country’s soil. There are two main benefits to this. One, no need to go abroad for this kind of maintenance or repair. This will reduce the cost of airlines. Secondly, the business of affiliates with MROs on the soil of the country will grow. Going abroad for maintenance costs is the result of spending foreign currency. Experts believe that if that maintenance work is done in the country, Airlines companies can save more money. According to experts, It’s a piece of good news for Kolkata. Because, if MRO is built here, then more numbers of Aircraft will come here. Aircraft will also come to Kolkata for maintenance from small neighbouring countries. As the geographical location of Kolkata is very important in terms of South-East Asia. Experts say that if such centres have been set up, there will be employment opportunities. Aircraft parts are very important for MRO. Where MROs are made, the demand for aircraft parts and other accessories increases around them. As a result, business in the area increases.
According to some experts, aircraft parts have to be imported from abroad at the moment. For this, the Center has started thinking of reducing the import duty. However, if the MRO is made on Indian soil, the parts will be made in this country and later the parts can be exported abroad.
Air India has already set up its Airbus 319 aircraft engineering base in Kolkata. As a result, the maintenance and repair work of that particular aircraft is now carried out regularly in Kolkata Airport. However, once the full MRO is created, all types of aircraft will come for maintenance. Demand for engineers will also increase.
To attract more investments, the civil aviation ministry recently announced a new policy for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services that includes leasing of land through open tenders and abolishing royalty charged by the AAI. Besides, land allotment for entities setting up MRO facilities will be done for 30 years instead of the current short term period of 3 to 5 years. Announcing the new policy, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said discussions are on for having military and civil convergence with respect to MRO activities. The aim is to make India a “global MRO hub", the minister noted.