I have written before about the sizable aircraft maintenance business in El Salvador. The leading company is Aeroman, which is 80% owned by ACTS, the aircraft maintenance arm of Air Canada. Formerly, Aeroman was owned by TACA, the Central American airline based in El Salvador. Operating out of El Salvador's international airport, Aeroman employs more than 1200 engineers and technicians.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times published an article highlighting the growing trend of airlines outsourcing their maintenance work to Aeroman:
Aeroman performs a variety of maintenance tasks, including sprucing up cabins, upgrading electronic systems and performing the rigorous "nose-to-tail" checks required for all commercial aircraft by the FAA, typically every 12 to 18 months. The company serviced about 120 aircraft last year.
Located in a modern facility at El Salvador International Airport, about 30 miles south of the capital, San Salvador, Aeroman employs 1,300 workers.
Entry-level trainees earn about $350 a month. An experienced mechanic can make more than $1,000 a month plus $120 monthly in bonuses -- good pay in a nation where the minimum wage for service workers is about $175 a month. Benefits include free bus transportation to work and subsidized lunches. Ruiz said turnover is low.
All mechanics speak at least some English, the language in which they must complete all paperwork and documentation for the FAA and other regulators. They are subject to random drug and alcohol tests and annual criminal checks. They must agree to undergo a polygraph examination before being hired.
On a recent afternoon, perspiring workers in identical short-sleeved navy polo shirts swarmed the cabin of an Airbus jetliner that had new carpet, spotless seats and freshly painted overhead bins.
"It's interesting work," said Luis Barrera, a 35-year-old mechanic. "And it's a big responsibility."
Aeroman has a clean record with the FAA for the last two years, said Dorr, who added that it was as far back as he could access data quickly in response to a Times request.
He described the Salvadoran operation as "an absolutely first-class facility." Customers agree. Mitch Sine, a maintenance representative for JetBlue, was in El Salvador recently checking one of his company's planes. He said Aeroman beats U.S.-based maintenance contractors, not just on price but on performance and on-time delivery.
"I can't buy this kind of quality in the United States," he said. "These people really have pride in their work."
This week, Frontier Airlines, a US air carrier which is currently operating in bankruptcy, filed a motion asking the bankruptcy court to approve its decision to terminate a contract with the Teamsters union in the US and outsource heavy maintenance work to Aeroman. The Denver Post reported that this move would eliminate 130 union jobs in Colorado.
In a globalized economy, one country's job gains are another country's job losses.