KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd signed a collaborative agreement with Destini Bhd's wholly-owned subsidiary Destini Aviation Sdn Bhd yesterday to outsource technical handling, component maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) and hangar based MRO to Destini Aviation. The agreement is to be implemented in a phased manner over the next six to eight months. AirAsia CEO Aireen Omar said the agreement is part of its plan and initiative to maintain cost efficiency within its MRO arrangements. "Some of these services are targeted to start domestically at stations such as Penang, Senai, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and Kota Baru," she said. AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes told reporters at the signing ceremony yesterday that it expects 10% to 15% savings in terms of cost from the US$100 million it spends on maintenance services per year. Destini chairman Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said it is enthusiastic about the growth prospects of the global MRO aviation sector, which is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 4% over the next 10 years, with global aviation MRO spend exceeding US$85 billion by 2024. "This is on the back of an expected overall positive outlook on the sector in the coming years on the back of low fuel prices and an increased consumer demand. Growth of the middle income group is expected to be higher in Asia Pacific as compared to any other part of the world and this will translate into higher air travel for both business and leisure travelers," he said. Destini is an integrated engineering solutions provider involved in MRO services specialising in safety and survival in the aviation and marine industry. It is also a provider of tubular handling equipment and running services in the oil and gas sector. It recently acquired an 80% equity stake in Safeair Technical Sdn Bhd, which provides technical line maintenance services for several regional airlines and has valid regulatory approvals from the civil aviation authorities of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. "In addition, Destini Aviation has also recently formed a 50:50 joint venture company with UK-based Avia Technique Ltd which provides inspection, repair and overhaul services of aircraft components for the commercial aviation sector. Destini Avia Technique Sdn Bhd, the joint venture, is expected to be operationalised by the end of October this year," said Rodzali.