HAVING come through Covid, the biggest challenge for Lufthansa Technik Turbine Shannon (LTTS) is trying to ramp up production as quickly as possible, according to its CEO Michael Malewski.
This week the company announced 25 jobs will be created when its new 2,000m2 building opens in the spring, with more likely to follow later in the year.
Mr Malewski said that the new development is nearly ready.
“It’s nearly complete and our target is that it can be fully operational at the end of March. The team are there now preparing everything for the big opening.”
He said that the development will see the Shannon site’s productive capacity increase by around a quarter.
The extra capacity is badly needed because demand from customers is exceptionally strong. “Business is really good. The last time I spoke to you was in the middle of the crisis, I was talking about the impact of the crisis on aviation in general and on Lufthansa Technik and we went through a difficult time.
“What we did in Shannon, we managed to stay online each and every day. We managed to provide services to all of our customers, which was good.
“Also there was a reduced workforce and over the last 18 months we are really ramping up because demand is increasing, it’s going through the roof.
“Everybody wants to go back into the air, there’s a huge desire for flying again, whether for vacations or business travel, so the whole aviation industry is ramping up again.
“You can feel it everywhere, there’s a shortage of staff everywhere, there’s increasing demand everywhere and it’s the same for us. We kept a high level of quality, we were really transparent to the market on what we can deliver and will deliver.
“The customer really appreciates and acknowledges what we did over the last two years and now we are really busy.”
Since 2021 a huge effort has been put into scaling up, with a large amount of people hired over the last 18 months to facilitate a ramping up of operations.
“We hired more than 80 people here in Shannon already for our existing building and we made the decision that we don’t have enough space here and would have to extend. We also made the decision to increase our product portfolio for repairs, so we are busy.”
How do numbers employed at LTTS compare to pre-Covid?
“We have around 300 people, 250 in Shannon. It’s a bit more than what we had pre-Covid. We had to make 65 people redundant during Covid, we had to do that, and now we’re ramping up again.
“Our headcount now with the 25 people we are adding with the new facility, is 10% above what we had pre-Covid.
“Plus there are additional people that we hired in Kildare, we had an opening ceremony there in November. LTTS is coming out of the crisis much stronger, we are bigger than we were pre-Covid and we are still increasing the headcount.”
The company is trying to get as many people as possible trained and the majority of people currently being hired have to train from scratch.
“That means a lot of investment in the training and qualifications, there is just a certain amount of people that we can qualify per period. But from a demand perspective, there are huge opportunities.”
As for how many are likely to be employed at the end of 2023, he is non-committal, but says at least 350, more towards 400, depending on how quickly the company can “ramp up”.
Mr Malewski said that the regional economy is now currently coping with some of the issues that come with success, but there is a lot to be positive about.
“There’s a shortage of skilled workers, a shortage of engineers, of qualified people, we have an issue with accommodation, with public transport. But don’t get me wrong, we are more than happy to be here in this area.”
The existing presence of the company is a major competitive advantage when demand for what it provides is sky-high.
“Our big advantage is we are existing; that means we can make things happen very quickly. In the past we were trying to open new facilities all over the world. During Covid, cash was king and coming out of the crisis, cash is king and it’s a question of who is the fastest, who can deliver as soon as possible.
“We have an existing framework, so it makes sense to us to bring new products to Ireland instead of opening a new facility in eastern Europe or Asia. This is why I am more than convinced that it really makes sense to invest here and business will stay strong for us.
“New engine types are coming, but the existing engine types still need repairs. We are good at qualifying our people, we are delivering high quality, we are treating our customers in the right way so they are loyal to us.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.