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Puerto Rico snags MRO facility

By Staff Reports on April 11, 2014

Lufthansa Technik and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico announced an agreement to create a new aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Puerto Rico, which will service short-haul and medium-haul aircraft.

Agreements have now been signed with the government of Puerto Rico and the responsible port authority, and Lufthansa plans to start construction on the facility in the next three months.

This is a step for Lufthansa Technik to expand its involvement in the U.S. The new company, Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico, will be based at Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, a former U.S. Air Force Base located on the northwest of the Island.

The leader of the project is Elmar Lutter, who now holds the position of managing director at the European overhaul facility Lufthansa Technik Budapest.

"We are very grateful to establish with our partner a new overhaul facility in Puerto Rico. Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico will be a important element in the long-term strategy of Lufthansa Technik's presence in the American market," August Wilhelm Henningsen, CEO of Lufthansa Technik, said.

The company will employ up to 400 workers and run a total of five overhaul lines. Initially, it will operate two lines for Airbus A320 C-checks and D-checks. The first layover is due to take place in 2015.

"This exciting partnership with Lufthansa Technik will create hundreds of high-skilled jobs and will be a cornerstone of the aviation industry we are developing in Puerto Rico," Alejandro García Padilla, governor of Puerto Rico, said. "With its decision to locate this facility in Puerto Rico, Lufthansa Technik joins a growing list of international companies that are investing in Puerto Rico in recognition of our favorable business climate and geographical advantages."

Puerto Rico has a high potential of aircraft mechanics and engineers. A dedicated technical school is training 100 people in these skills. In addition, Lufthansa Technik is training additional personnel through its subsidiary, Lufthansa Technical Training, in partnership with the University of Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth's Department of Education.

"What companies like Lufthansa are realizing is there has never been a better time to invest in the United States," U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said. "With assistance from our SelectUSA team, we were able to assist communities in Puerto Rico that are ready for investment, and – across the globe – help a great company, Lufthansa, invest in the United States. By helping build strong partnerships like this one, we are able to create jobs, spur economic growth and promote American competitiveness around the world."

Lufthansa Technik already has the firm commitments of two major American launching customers for overhauls at the new site. One is JetBlue Airways.

"This is very exciting news for Lufthansa Technik, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and for JetBlue as well," JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said. "As the largest airline serving the people of Puerto Rico, we are honored to support and endorse Lufthansa Technik's plans to build a heavy maintenance base in Aguadilla, and we are very happy to be one of the first airlines to be serviced there when it opens."