Gulf Air swoops in for deal to outsource its IT support

Gulf Air is to outsource IT support services for its aircraft maintenance department to the Swiss-based firm SR Technics Holdings as part of a five-year contract worth US$750million.

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By  Diana Milne Published  April 23, 2006

Gulf Air is to outsource IT support services for its aircraft maintenance department to the Swiss-based firm SR Technics Holdings as part of a five-year contract worth US$750million. The airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to hand over full responsibility for the maintenance of its 34-strong fleet, including IT support services, to SR Technics and will replace its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with the SAP solution used by the company. Gulf Air is expected to make savings of US$190million over the duration of the deal. Previously, maintenance of the fleet had been outsourced to the Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company (GAMCO). Data on each aircraft, and the fleet’s spare parts components currently sit on an IT system originally developed by a US company, which Gulf Air has used for over ten years. This will now be replaced by an ERP solution from SAP which will be hosted from Switzerland by SR Technics. Abdul Khaliq Saeed, vice president, technical, Gulf Air who is responsible for aircraft maintenance, said that as the SAP system was web-based it would be a considerable improvement over its predecessor: “The previous system had limitations — it was not web based so it was limited to being at the main base and two other bases in Bahrain and London.” “The SAP system is web-based which means it will be easier for our engineers to access and the information will be more readily available,” he added. Furthermore, he noted, if an aircraft was coming in to land at an airport and had been experiencing problems “before it gets there the engineer will be able to plan what to do, get hold of the spare power and the manpower that will be needed.” That would make it easier to ensure the aircraft departed on time, he added. “Airlines aim to be on time, to be punctual and to be safe,” Saeed said. “This [system] brings all these things.” The SAP system will contain information on each aircraft, when maintenance checks need to be carried out and any faults that have been fixed in the past. It will also provide engineers with immediate access to information about where spare parts components can be located and if they are currently in use, at what stage they will become available. Gulf Air, when looking for a company to take over the maintenance of its fleet also considered Lufthansa and a Hong Kong-based company Haeco. Saeed said that SR Technics’ use of the SAP system was one reason behind Gulf Air’s choice. “It was one of the advantages when we did the evaluation of the tender they submitted,” he explained. The migration over to the SAP system is expected to start in May and according to Saeed will take around a month. As part of the five-year contract the two companies will be setting up a US$50million three bay hanger aircraft maintenance facility for the Gulf Air fleet in which Gulf Air will have a 10% shareholding.

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