QantasLink is establishing a new heavy maintenance base in Canberra that will be responsible for the airline’s fleet of 18 Boeing 717s.
The facility will open in October and create about 40 skilled engineering roles, QantasLink said in a statement on Friday. Currently, QantasLink conducts line maintenance on its 717s at Canberra Airport.
“Canberra will be at the heart of our Boeing 717 engineering operations, which will complement our increased flying out of Canberra with this aircraft type and allow us to better utilise our existing assets at Canberra Airport,” QantasLink chief executive John Gissing said.
“This is an investment in new jobs and technical capabilities at Canberra Airport and builds on our strong commitment of over 260 Qantas Group employees in the ACT.”
Canberra will be QantasLink’s second heavy maintenance facility. Currently, QantasLink’s fleet of Q400, Q300 and Q200 turboprops undergo their regular heavy maintenance checks at Tamworth in Northern NSW.
Previously, Qantas sent its 717 to Cobham Aviation Services’ engineering facility in Adelaide for heavy maintenance checks, which occur every two years, usually take about 28 days and require about 5,500 man hours.
The return of heavy maintenance work in-house comes after a period where Qantas had progressively shuttered its engineering facilities at Sydney, Melbourne Tullamarine and Avalon, resulting in hundreds of job losses.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the agreement between the government and QantasLink to bring its 717 fleet to Canberra for heavy maintenance was for five years and allowed for further expansion.
“I am aware that QantasLink had a number of cities to choose from, but we put a strong case to them to bring this investment to Canberra,” Barr said in a statement.
“The estimated value of the new arrangement to the ACT economy is around $5 million a year and our agreement with Qantas allows for the program to expand over the coming years.”
The work will be undertaken in QantasLink’s existing hangar at Canberra Airport, which was originally built with ACT government support for Impulse Airlines to maintain the short-lived low-cost carrier’s Boeing 717s there. Qantas acquired Impulse Airlines in 2001, inheriting the hangar before it was completed, as well as Impulse’s fleet of 717s. The hangar was designed to accomodate three 717s (or two 737s or a single 767).