Australian flag carrier Qantas has invested $30m in a 50%-expansion of its maintenance facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The 5.7-hectare site upgrades a 1950s hangar into a cavernous building capable of servicing four aircraft at the same time, including the A380.
“We can have up to four aircraft on the ground at LAX at once and some are here for around 14 hours, so it makes sense to have a facility where we can make good use of that time by doing scheduled maintenance,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
The new hangar is also designed to support the 747, and the 787-9 when it starts operating with Qantas later this year.
However, it is the 12-story facility’s A380 capability that merits a closer look. Airbus’ superjumbo may not have sold well, but a big chunk of the global fleet does fly through LAX, which now has the United States’ only purpose-built maintenance facility for the aircraft.
Air France, Asiana, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates and Korean Air all fly the A380 into the airport and Qantas has said it could bid for maintenance work from them and other carriers.
More contracts could materialise from 2020 when LAX’s new Midfield Satellite Concourse is completed, adding six more A380 passenger gates to the 12 the airport already has.
Nonetheless, it is somewhat ironic that it is Qantas opening such a facility. Its metal-bashing jobs are exactly the type that the Trump administration has promised to bring back to the US, yet their source is a company often criticised for offshoring work of its own.
Seeking to allay such concerns, Joyce said: “Australia will always be where we do the majority of our maintenance, and we’ve invested heavily in our onshore facilities in recent years, but LAX is our next biggest transit point so we’re pleased to now have a facility that reflects that.”