Southwest Airlines announces plans to build $130M regional maintenance facility at BWI

Editor’s note: The following story appeared on on September 20, 2018.

By Amanda Yeager

Southwest Airlines Co. will break ground next year on a $130 million regional maintenance facility to service the hundreds of planes flying daily in and out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Gov. Larry Hogan and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly announced the project at an event marking the airline’s 25th year of operations at BWI and looking ahead to its future at the airport.

Construction on the three-bay, 130,000-square-foot hangar will begin in the airport’s northwest quadrant next year and is projected to be complete in 2021, Hogan said. The new facility is expected to create 450 new construction and maintenance jobs over the next three years.

Southwest (NYSE: LUV) will contribute $80 million toward the project and Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Aviation Administration will spend $50 million to build infrastructure improvements such as utility work and site preparation.

Kelly called the new facility, which will be the airline’s only maintenance hangar in the Northeast/mid-Atlantic area, “a serious commitment” to the airport and the region.

“I was around when Southwest launched service at BWI, and it was little; it was just 10 daily departures,” he said. “It could have turned out differently, but this is a state and an airport that have a vision, and they have stayed consistent with that vision for 25 years.”

The facility will provide shelter from the elements for the airline’s mechanics as they perform routine and necessary maintenance on the 240 aircraft that pass through BWI each day, as well as the approximately 30 that are parked there overnight, according to Southwest Senior Vice President of Technical Operations Landon Nitschke. It will also provide storage space for all of the parts, tools and equipment needed for that technical work, he said.

The announcement follows news of a planned $60 million expansion of BWI’s concourse A intended to accommodate Southwest’s continued growth. The 55,000-square-foot extension would add five new gates as well as space for new restaurants and retail, and is expected to be complete by July 2020.

BWI is a major East Coast hub for Southwest, and the airline accounts for 69 percent of the airport’s passenger traffic.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal, September 20, 2018

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