The Leipzig, Saxony-based repair and overhaul specialist Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Service GmbH (AMTES) is about to be liquidated, internal sources claim. The company, which focusses on AN-124, B777F and B737F technical services, has already scaled down its activities. This was confirmed to CargoForwarder Global by people close to the case.
A gusty wind blowing from Moscow, drives dark clouds across the sky of AMTES’ Leipzig facility. The replacement of all four engines of a Volga-Dnepr operated Antonov 124-100 last June, coupled with some repair work accomplished in close cooperation with technical experts flown in from V-D’s main base Ulyanovsk, Russia, might have been one of the last major work packages performed by the Saxon MRO provider.
From LEJ to SHJ
Since then, evidence is increasing that the Moscow-headquartered Volga-Dnepr Group intends to concentrate its technical services in Sharjah, UAE, where the conglomerate’s local subsidiary runs a hangar of 20,000 square meters, more than double the size of the Group’s Leipzig facility (8.500 sq. m.). This is confirmed to CargoForwarder by a V-D manager who wishes to remain anonymous:
“Apparently, the management of the V-D Group no longer has any hope for the development of CargoLogic Germany as the last major customer of AMTES technical services. Volga-Dnepr daughter AirBridgeCargo Airlines, the former main customer of the MRO hangar in Leipzig, refused AMTES services too and transferred its MRO contracts to the UAE,” the insider states.
Affected are 70 AMTES employees “who have already received a 100% short working day notice. The main staff is not aware of the further real fate of the enterprise, since it is explained for reassurance that all decisions taken are only temporary measures for a couple of months.”
At AMTES nobody was available for comment over the weekend, not even their AOG desk took any calls, although it is supposed to be manned 24/7.
If AMTES should shut its Leipzig hangar for good, as most signs suggest, it would also be a personal defeat for Stanislaw Tillich, the former Prime Minister of Saxony (2008-2017), who only recently had been appointed member of the Supervisory Board of the Russian V-D Group.
During his political term, the Christian Democrat (conservatives) very strongly backed a closer cooperation in aviation matters between the V-D Group and the Saxon state. In addition to the expansion of cargo traffic operated by V-D and line-haul sister ABC to/from LEJ, assembling a modernized version of the AN-124 at Leipzig Airport stood high on the agenda of projects both sides intended to realize.
…which didn’t come to fruition
However, these plans announced in 2013 came to grief. Instead, V-D withdrew their own AN-124s and exited the Ruslan Salis GmbH, a former Leipzig-based joint venture with Antonov Airlines guaranteeing AN-124 airlift capacity for European and most NATO states.
As consequence, the Ukrainian aviation company set up its own maintenance base at Leipzig Airport (Antonov Logistics SALIS – ALS) which was inaugurated in September 2019, supporting the operations of Antonov Airlines’ own large AN-124 freighters when uplift capacity is asked for by EU members and contractual NATO partners. This can add up to 900 block hours per year.
DHL might move in
As for the future of the hangar after AMTES moved out, there is already a possible successor for the utilization of the facility - DHL. Although the company is keeping a very low profile on this issue, its statement indicates that there are ongoing talks. hints at ongoing talks with representatives of the V-D Group. Since AMTES is the only company considering exiting LEJ, it is not difficult to guess who DHL is talking to.
Here is the statement of the Deutsche Post subsidiary in full:
“Since 2008 and its start of operations DHL Express with its global hub in Leipzig and the also based airlines EAT and Aerologic has been recording continuous growth. For this reason, the
company is always looking for capacity expansion opportunities, both in air and ground operations and is therefore in regular exchanges with several parties. Furthermore, DHL Express has
significantly invested in the renewal of its aircraft fleet and several of the 14 ordered new Boeing 777 wide-body aircraft, the company operates to connect its worldwide hubs, are based in
Leipzig. Due to this DHL is also in discussions to find solutions for these additional hangar space requirements. Please understand that we do not publicly communicate details of these
A final decision in the matter is expected soon.
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