The aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) market in the GCC member states is estimated to have reached $4.7bn in 2016, according to a report published by US-based consultancy firm Olyver Wyman.

With more than 600 active commercial fleet between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, the MRO market between UAE and Qatar is valued at $3.6bn in 2016, up from $3.5bn in 2015.

Growth in the rest of the region, accounted primarily by Saudi Arabia, is estimated to have remained flat at $1.1bn.

“Major opportunities exist but they might be tougher to access compared to previous years,” David Stewart, partner at Olyver Wyman, told a forum at the ongoing MRO Middle East conference.

Stewart said the Middle East airlines are among the highest adopters of aircraft that utilise new technologies. Maintaining these aircraft models require new skill sets that need to be developed quickly.

This is regarded by many in the aviation sector as a major challenge, especially in a market that has consistently experienced a shortage in engineers and technicians and has relied mainly on expatriate labour.

“Obtaining manpower to handle new technologies will be a huge challenge,” Stewart said adding that the influx of new planes has resulted in shortages in the supply chain. “I would think they have a plan in place to address this issue. If they haven’t got a plan in place, then they should have one.”

GCC-based airlines have a total of  more than 1,000 aircraft on order.

GCC carriers key indicators
Company Country In-service fleet Aircraft pending delivery
Emirates Group UAE 255 224
Qatar Airways Qatar 192 353
Etihad Airways UAE 123 204
Flydubai UAE 50 100
Oman Air Oman 30 20
Air Arabia UAE 43 8
Saudia Saudi Arabia 119 50
Kuwait Airways Kuwait 32 10
Flynas Saudi Arabia 29 60
Gulf Air Bahrain 28 45
Jazeera Airways Kuwait 7 na
Total   908 1,074
Sources: Airlines, MEED  

 Several MRO facilities are currently under bidding in the region, including one for the Bahrain International airport.