In a sign of confidence regarding its Airbus A380 operations, Qantas has signed a 20-year lease for a new maintenance facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The new hangar will include two parking pads capable of taking Airbus A380 aircraft, plus office space and ground support equipment facilities, according to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) documents tabled at a board of commissioners meeting on October 2.
In addition to the new 5.7 hectare site, Qantas will also lease one additional A380-capable hangar adjacent to its new maintenance hangar.
Qantas’s current maintenance hangar at LAX, known as the old TWA hangar, was scheduled for demolition in January 2016 to build a a dual A380 taxi lane as part of improvements to the airport.
“This hangar was constructed in 1958 and is now substantially obsolete relative to the needs of today’s large aircraft,” LAWA said.
Qantas also held two five-year options on the new facility.
The airline will have about 150 engineers and 50 other employees based at the new facility.
“It will make LAX the premier centre for A380 maintenance in North America as far as we know,” Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) deputy executive director for commercial development Debbie Bowers told the meeting.
The terms of the lease called for Qantas to invest US$30 million in the new hangar, as well as undertake “non-proprietary” improvements such as retaining walls, utilities installation, airfield lighting and airfield security fencing that would normally be provided by LAWA.
With the old TWA hangar due to be demolished in early 2016, Qantas faces a $US50,000 a day penalty if it had not exited the facility by December 31 2015.
The majority of Qantas’s operations to Los Angeles arrive in the morning and depart late in the evening. The airline has used that down time to conduct maintenance on the aircraft.
“Qantas has a significant maintenance presence at LAX because of the importance of this port to our network and the amount of ground time our aircraft have there,” a Qantas spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Friday.
With the changed flying schedule into London and increased utilisation of the A380 – Qantas estimates its double-decker Airbuses are in the air about 14 hours a day – the long layover in Los Angeles represents one of the few big gaps in the schedule for maintenance work to be conducted.