Currently over 1000 Western-build airplanes are being operated in ten CIS member-states, plus Ukraine and Georgia (CIS+2). But the regional aviation market is still highly fragmented with more than 45 different types of aircraft, both Western- and Russian-made. But should the airlines continue shifting to modern and more fuel-efficient foreign airplanes, the CIS maintenance job market may become more integrated and homogeneous.

Today approx. 60% of airlines are operating more than 85% of the entire regional fleet of Western-made aircraft. While Georgian and Armenian carriers prefer Bombardier CRJ 200 and Boeing 747-200 (accounting for ~40% and ~30% of the national Western aircraft markets respectively), Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 seem to be the most popular aircraft types in other countries of the region.

‘Though the majority of the CIS-based airlines do prefer Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, the difference in quantity between these and other aircraft types is not substantial. Boeing 757, Fokker 50 and Bombardier CRJ occupy almost 40% of the Kazakhstani Western aircraft market, and Embraer 145 is dominant in Ukraine. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget the substantial Soviet era heritage, primarily AN-24s,’ commented the Deputy Head of FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas.

According to the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), currently approx. 89% of the Russian/Soviet-made airplanes in Russia are older than 10 years, meaning that local airlines will face significant fleet renewals during next 10-15 years, primarily, by switching to Western types of aircraft. The same applies to other countries of the region.

‘The more similar national aircraft markets would mean more opportunities for both MRO specialists and their employers in the regional job market. Due to the aging fleet and alarmingly increasing oil-prices, regional air carriers are very likely to replace current fleet with a more efficient one, for example, mostly consisting of Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737s. But the fleet renewal will naturally be followed by the wave of retired aircraft type maintenance specialists, meaning rocketing unemployment rate and increasing shortage of specialists in the industry. In order to prevent such consequences, MRO organisations ought to start developing a re-type plan for their employees, should they wish to stay in the business in the future,’ commented Dainius Sakalauskas.

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