The Northern Territory government has announced it will invest a further $3.5 million into the Alice Springs ‘boneyard’ so it can store 100 aircraft.
The upgrade will help create 55 local jobs and will involve building new roads to ensure the facility’s capacity can be quickly doubled.
Tom Vincent, who owns the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) maintenance facility, separately told the ABC that parking spaces were “definitely in demand”.
“As soon as extra spots for storage come online, there are aircraft filling those spots,” Vincent said.
Currently, the facility is storing 44 aircraft and it has already received a $1 million infrastructure grant.
This new investment package will see it double its workforce and is predicted to inject more than $10 million dollars, directly and indirectly, into the NT’s economy.
Before the pandemic, APAS was home to just 18 aircraft at any one time.
Like many so-called boneyards, APAS is chosen by airlines because its low precipitation and hot weather reduce rust, while staff are on-hand to carry out the 100-plus maintenance tasks per year required to keep aircraft operational.
“It’s a pretty complex job, huge volume of work and it keeps our engineers busy,” Vincent said.
“We have nearly 50 employees here full-time maintaining the aircraft, ensuring they are in a condition so they can be returned to service.”
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner called APAS a “complete gamechanger” for the industry that had worked “extremely well in America”.
“Storing aircraft is not just a coronavirus issue but obviously more planes are grounded than flying so there is a unique opportunity here,” Chief Minister Gunner told NT News. “Once it’s proved, I think a lot of people will use the facility beyond coronavirus.”
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation uncovered footage of Qantas’ last 747, VH-OEJ, landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port boneyard in California.
Qantas sold its last 747, along with five others, to General Electric. The airport, IATA: MHV, is located within the Mojave Air and Space Port and has been storing aircraft since the 1970s.
— Sam Chui (@SamChuiPhotos) July 25, 2020