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  • Writer's pictureOussama Salah

ADAT, Moving Forward or ...

In early May 2014, Etihad Airways acquired or took over Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT), formerly Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company (GAMCO), from Mubadala except for the Engine Shop.

GAMCO was founded in 1987 as a partnership between the Government of Abu Dhabi and Gulf Air who owned a 40% stake, primarily to undertake the existing wide body and new technology aircraft (L1011, B767, A320, A330 and A340) fleets of Gulf Air. As Gulf Air's financial situation deteriorated in 1997, GAMCO expanded its third party business and aircraft maintenance capabilities beyond the Gulf Air requirements. As a result GAMCO expanded to become one of the top 15 MROs globally and number 1 in MENA (between Europe and Singapore) with more than seventy (70) customers ranging from North America through Europe and MENA all the way to the Far East. In early 2006, Gulf Air pulled its maintenance from GAMCO following the 2005 withdrawal of the Abu Dhabi Government from Gulf Air. The relationship between Gulf Air and GAMCO was at best very uneasy.

As a result the Abu Dhabi Government acquired Gulf Air's 40% share in GAMCO and turned it over to Mubadala, a government investment arm in the aerospace and technology sector. In 2007 Mubadala rebranded GAMCO as ADAT.

When Etihad was formed in 2003, GAMCO was entrusted with the total maintenance and support of Etihad's expanding fleet. Fast forward to the present; a decade later Etihad has withdrawn and brought inhouse a substantial amount of services leaving ADAT to perform airframe heavy maintenance and components/engines repair and overhaul activities.

Beyond the press releases and the great sentiments of moving forward there is an underlying desire for Etihad to take total control of its total maintenance activities for several reasons (punctuality, quality etc..) and to improve the synergies with its airline equity partners. The next step will be to bring in maintenance from Airberlin, Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and who knows Alitalia in the future in order to reduce cost and safeguard its investment. As Etihad tightens the reins and demands more and more attention to its fleet and its partners fleets, other customers will shy away. The region has never been known for balanced relationship.

Whether this is really moving forward or a case of Deja Vu, only time will tell.

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