After a thorough study of the region, and finding the government in Puerto Rico willing to develop the aerospace sector, Lufthansa Techink AG decided to open its branch in the island in 2015 and offer services specialized in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of narrow body aircrafts of the Airbus A320 family. Part of the reason why the company chose Puerto Rico over other candidates such as Mexico was the security instilled by being on American soil, which meant that they would have access to financial incentives and to assistance from an administration fully supported by Washington DC. “We signed the contract in April 2014 and opened one year later”, tells Mr. Elmar Lutter, President of the company. “We had a lot of support from the Local Administration and the Federal Government”.
In little over three years, Lufthansa Technik have tripled their employees, now more than 350 and expected to grow to 400 by the end of the year, and are now running five lines in the hangar at full capacity, making it one of the biggest players in the market, not only in heavy maintenance, but also in components and engines. “We did not have this offer two years ago”, explains Mr. Lutter, “we have successfully reached full capacity in just two years, which means we can keep hiring people and keep investing in the island”. In fact, the company does not only repair Lufthansa planes, but is working with third party companies such as Jet Blue and Spirit and providing them their wide range of services, from single base maintenance events to total base maintenance support.
Despite such rapid success, the company is focused on its strategy for future growth, aimed at expanding their client base to include more American airlines and also many from South America, where they have been looking with interest towards Chile, Brazil and Mexico. “We definitely want to grow”, explains Mr. Lutter, “not only here but in different places, because we cannot penetrate the markets of the whole continent from here. The US West Coast, for example, is too far for us, and that’s where Mexico comes into play, with four major airlines, good position and good labor costs”.
By reaching full capacity, assuring an efficient production system and a safe workplace, Mr. Lutten believes the company will reach its goals of growth and of achieving a fully-trained workforce, including senior mechanics. Threatened by the amount of professionals leaving the island, the company has also created agreements with the Aviation Institute of Puerto Rico and has started to update and strengthen their engineering school. “The long-term objective is to keep hiring”, explains Mr. Lutter, “but for now we are focusing on refilling our capacity”.
With a company awarded in 2016 for Excellence in Construction and already planning new innovations for the coming year, including the arrival of new models 737, 737 New and 737 Max aircrafts
With a company awarded in 2016 for Excellence in Construction and already planning new innovations for the coming year, including the arrival of new models 737, 737 New and 737 Max aircrafts, Mr. Lutter is confident about their future plans, and recognizes the benefits of doing business in Puerto Rico. “There are several reasons to invest in Puerto Rico”, he concludes. “There is talent, there is force, there are incentives, and the location is frankly unbeatable. Yes, this is a good place to do business”.