The Alice Springs boneyard appears to be almost reaching its new expanded capacity of 100 aircraft after the Northern Territory government invested $3.5 million into the site in July.
The dramatic shot by Twitter user Megan Dingwall shows planes stored by airlines including Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Scoot and HK Express.
Australian Aviation previously reported how the NT government made the investment, which included building new roads to ensure the facility’s capacity could be quickly doubled, to help create 55 local jobs.
There’s about 90 planes parked at Alice Springs airport. Planes started arriving at Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage in April and some flew in as recently as last week. A jarring and rather sad sight. pic.twitter.com/crchxyFGnF
— Megan Dingwall (@PegsontheLine) September 28, 2020
Tom Vincent, who owns the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) maintenance facility, previously 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.
In July, the facility was storing 44 aircraft and had already received a $1 million infrastructure grant.
This new investment package doubled its workforce and is predicted to inject more than $10 million dollars, directly and indirectly, into the state’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.”