MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday said that he envisions the Philippines to become a destination for 10 million tourists by 2016.
He made the remark at the inauguration of the new Airbus A380 maintenance hangar of Lufthansa Technik Philippines at the MacroAsia Special Economic Zone in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
The new hangar was “not just any hangar but one built to service the Airbus A380″, which is the world’s largest commercial aircraft.
Aquino added that just as the “Airbus A380 was an ambitious project… this hangar is an ambitious (one as well),” adding that such a hangar was necessary in the country “because we want our workforce to be known for their skills in aviation.”
The President boasted that by April, the Philippines will be “one of the few locations around the world that can service such a gigantic aircraft” which will bring in opportunities for Filipinos within the country.
Aquino, together with Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, and Secretary Cesar Purisima, attended the inauguration of what Philippine Airlines chairman and CEO Lucio Tan described to be the “first such facility (of its kind) in the Philippines, and only the fourth of its kind in the world.”
The maintenance hangar is the third of its kind in Manila and was a US$30 million investment made by LTP as it sought to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to A380 and in turn not only expand the airline’s capacity but also create some 400 more jobs for the country.
By April 2012, LTP will be making C-checks and cabin modifications for the A380 using the said hangar which is 8,500 square meters large and 35 meters in height.
The hangar, built on a parcel of land which was a parking lot 10 months ago, has enough space for simultaneous checks on one wide body and two narrow body aircraft.
With the expansion into maintenance of the A380 in mind, LTP also had their employees undergo a training specific to the A380 at the Lufthansa Technical Training Philippines in Manila. They also took on several months of on-the-job training on A380 C-checks at Lufthansa Technik in Frankfurt.
Such an expansion, according to Aquino, spoke of Lufthansa’s “confidence on our workers… (and a) true testament to how far our country has come.”
According to August Wilhelm Henningsen, Lufthansa Technik AG’s chairman of the executive board, the new hangar will help them “keep up with the increasing demand for technical services for long-haul Airbus aircraft, particularly in the Asian market.”
He said that they were confident that the conducive business environment will allow LTP to flourish even more.
Moreover, the hangar will also “reaffirm the Filipino aviation workers’ place among the world’s best and underscores LTP’s long-term plans of operating in the Philippines,” surmised Washington SyCip, chairman of LTP.
He said that he has, “for the past 60 years… been confident of the human resources of our country,” adding that LTP which has “trained thousands of engineers and mechanics… will further provide opportunities to Filipinos.”
LTP, a venture of Lufthansa Technik and MacroAsia Corporation has, for more than a decade, enabled the country to be part of the global aviation map through a mix of Filipino innovation, craftsmanship, and German technology, precision and discipline.
“We can look back with pride to all the successes with this partnership,” said Henningsen.
The company provides comprehensive technical services like lease return checks and cabin modification for the Airbus A330/A340 and A320 families, and by April this year, the A380.
And with some 20 approvals from aviation authorities such as the American FAA and the European EASA, LTP serves 30 overhaul customers including the Philippine Airlines, Lufthansa, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, LAN Chile and AirAsia X.