Qantas has announced that heavy maintenance of its remaining 747-400 airliners will move offshore once its Avalon heavy maintenance facility near Geelong closes in March.
In a January 21 statement, the airline said; “We indicated when we announced the closure of our Avalon maintenance base that maintenance on our Boeing 747 aircraft may need to be done by one of the specialist global maintenance providers, as there are no suitable facilities in Australia.”
The airline says while it will send two 747s to Hong Kong for maintenance checks later this year, it will also begin a “rigorous tender process to choose a suitable maintenance provider to maintain our Boeing 747 fleet for the long-term.”
The move comes after the retirement of a large proportion of the airline’s older 747-400 fleet which the airline says has meant Avalon has become a “sub-scale maintenance facility.” The airline had operated 36 747-300s and 747-400/-400ERs at its peak, but today just nine 747-400s and six 747-400ERs remain, and this number will further reduce to a total of just 10 aircraft by 2017.
Qantas will continue to perform heavy maintenance in Australia on “the majority of (its) aircraft” such as Boeing 737s, 767s and Airbus A330s, but says where it’s fleets are “small or sub-scale”, it is not “economic to do this work at our facilities in Australia.”