It’s more fun in the Philippines, they say

It’s more fun in the Philippines, they say. Being part of Lufthansa Technik’s (LHT) international trainee program StartTechnik I had the great opportunity to check out this slogan by spending my third rotation at the Base Maintenance of Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP).

Lufthansa Technik Philippines was founded as a joint venture in 2000 and is located at the Air Base in Pasay. Pasay, not Manila? Yes, when people say Manila they mostly refer to a network called Metro Manila consisting of 16 single cities situated directly next to each other and giving home to around 13 million people. There are cities with a greater population, but Manila belongs to the cities with the highest population density on the world. And there is no need for any statistic to know that – you will feel it from the moment on the airport is releasing you. In connection with an underdeveloped public transportation system it is an everyday life situation that people spend several hours for commuting, one way. Does not sound like too much fun yet, right!?

View on Makati (one of the 16 cities) and on Manila Bay

So why did I choose LTP in the first place? LTP is the biggest player in LHT’s network of production sites: around 3000 employees are working on the greatest product variety with checks for the A320 family, A330, A340, A380 and B777. To satisfy the increasing demand for capacity, the current number of eight bays is even getting extended by a new hangar in 2020. Additionally, LTP’s operation is mainly detached from LHT’s production network meaning that the entire range of functions beginning with sales, engineering, material management and so on is locally represented. This offers a great range of learning fields and new experiences, especially for my personal short term assignment.

During my assignment, I supported in putting on the two-year program AGILA, dealing with the currently most urgent problems of Base Maintenance (BM). The program contains three projects for improvements concerning BM’s quality, performance and facilities. It started with creating a pool of ideas by facilitating several workshops with colleagues across all departments and all hierarchical levels. Validations, prioritizations, and several discussions later the scope of all three projects was settled and now defines the work for the next two years. Being part of this from the beginning gave me the experience of what it means to derive actions out of complex circumstances: forming teams, enabling people, defining targets, finding possible solutions, defining the organization, structure and proper communication of a program of this size. Additionally, it gave me a broad understanding of several topics around the operations of the base maintenance which is mainly manpower driven. Hence, a lot of discussions revolve around issues like capacity steering, turnaround times, man hours, authorizations of mechanics and appropriate training programs. After the set up phase was done the substantive work in the projects started and I took over one of the subprojects to investigate the drivers of BM’s cost per man hour. The hereby created transparency gives the appropriate starting points for specific improvements.

The assignment to LTP was an enriching field of work for me because I got to know the core business of a MRO provider. Besides I experienced the strategically import region Asia and its culture, form a business as well as a leisure perspective. I enjoyed the business life in the Philippines because my colleagues are the greatest ambassadors of the above mentioned slogan. While doing a great job they never miss a chance to loosen the atmosphere by jokes and laughter which I highly appreciate. Since the Philippines consist of more than 7000 islands, only 1000 of them inhabited, the leisure life is unique. The Philippines have one of the highest levels of biodiversity due to its isolation and are a treasure trove for nature-lovers. The country is blessed with the best dive spots, the clearest water, remote islands with breathtaking beaches, hot springs in the deep jungle – just to name a few things. I can truly understand why the Philippines are also called the ‘Pearl of the Orient Seas’. This pearl has attracted other nations in the past: Spain colonized the Philippines for around 300 years, the Americans followed, and finally in 1946 the Philippines gained their independence. Today the presence of this foreign influence is omnipresent: The national language Tagalog is pervaded by Spanish and English words, malls and fast food chains determine the everyday life in the big cities, basketball is the Filipino number one national sport.

Its location also makes the Philippines a perfect hub for exploring all parts of Asia. Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Vietnam made it to my travel list and have been a decent add-on to the Filipino islands.

Remote island in Palawan
View on Kyoto from the Kiyomizu-dera temple

My assignment to the Philippines for almost half a year broadened my mind in several perspectives. The circumstances I come from cannot be compared to the struggles of the Philippines people with difficult circumstances, e.g. regular typhoons and earthquakes. Hence, I particularly admire the outgoing, open and happy spirit and attitude of the Filipinos. I enjoyed every spontaneous basketball battle, every laughter with random people, and every chitchat with my few bits of Tagalog I tried to learn. I was always welcomed with a big smile, no matter how remote the area was. All in all, I can say that it indeed is more fun in the Philippines.

It is all about basketball in the Philippines



Malte Petersen joined the StartTechnik graduate program in October 2017. Before, he studied Business Administration with a specialization in Logistics & Supply Chain Management at Aarhus University, Denmark. During his studies, he already made his first experiences in the aviation industry. Internships in the Lean Management department and a collaboration with Lufthansa Technik for his master thesis finally convinced him of the industry. The assignment abroad to Lufthansa Technik Philippines was his third project within the StartTechnik program. Before he worked as a project manager in the central IT department as well as in the Supply Chain Management department of Mobile Engine Services (MES) of Lufthansa Technik.