A blossoming partnership between Ethiopian Airlines and Collins Aerospace is broadening the airline’s already sizable MRO services business while helping the supplier gain a foothold in a region primed for growth. 

Announced at the Paris Air Show, the agreement will see Ethiopian establish repair capabilities on several Collins-supplied De Havilland Dash 8-400 components. The airline will support its own fleet and offer services to other operators of the former Bombardier turboprop. Collins will use the shop to support African customers as well.

“When you look at premier airlines in the world, many of them are saying, ‘What do we want ourselves to look like in the future?,’” Collins aftermarket services president Ajay Agrawal told ATW. “Many of them are looking for a strategic local capability.”

If IATA’s long-term forecast for demand is any indication, Africa—despite being the smallest of world-region markets the association tracks—will need its share of MRO services in the next two decades. The latest IATA outlook has Africa’s passenger growth at a 4.6% CAGR through 2037. Among IATA’s regions, only Asia-Pacific is expected to grow more quickly.

The Addis Ababa-based carrier has well-established MRO capabilities, including with the Dash 8-400. Bombardier named it an authorized service center, and last year it added Dowty Propellers to its Dash 8-400 authorized-capabilities list. The Collins tie-up extends what had been a transaction-based relationship between the airline and carrier.

“We have had them as a customer for a long time, but this is the first time we have taken this deep, strategic step in terms of an MRO partnership,” Agrawal said.

The partnership is expected to ramp up quickly. Collins will soon get Ethiopian set up with required technical data and tooling, clearing the way for work to begin this year.

“It's a little bit of a ramp up,” Agrawal said.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com