Construction could begin soon on a brand new maintenance facility for Southwest Airlines at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. (BWI airport photo)
Construction could begin in October on a new maintenance facility for Southwest Airlines at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).
One of the airline's largest bases, the hangar has been planned for years, according to Simple Flying, an aviation digital news site.
The final go-head came Sept. 15 when the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) approved two contracts to construct the maintenance facility. The Board, chaired by Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, approved a $44.6 million deal to develop the site and lease it for Southwest Airlines to build and operate the repair and upkeep facility at BWI.
It will be the air carrier's first maintenance facility in the northeastern United States, the airline noted. Southwest has extensive maintenance bases elsewhere, for example, in Houston, and, in 2019, it announced plans to build a nearly $100 million maintenance facility in Denver.
A Big Deal for Southwest Airlines
The Baltimore base will encompass a 27-acre site with a hangar to accommodate up to three Boeing 737 aircraft. There also will be apron space to park up to eight Southwest Airlines jets at a time, along with new office and workshop space for the carrier.
The total cost of the facility is estimated to be around $135 million, including an investment of approximately $90 million from the airline.
The repair and upkeep of passenger jets is key for any air carrier. At Southwest, though, maintenance is a little simpler as it only flies one type of plane, the Boeing 737. Therefore, its technicians only need to be familiar with one aircraft make and model, Simple Flying reported.
Building the new facility at BWI, a hub for Southwest Airlines and one of its largest bases — with more than 4,000 employees working there — also helps the carrier operationally in that it already has a lot of infrastructure devoted to its operations at the airport. Having a maintenance base in Baltimore gives the airline more opportunities to slot aircraft in and out of the schedule easily.
For almost three decades, Southwest Airlines aircraft have been taking off and landing at BWI. Over the years, the airline has grown its presence immensely and is the largest carrier at the airport, which has noted that about 70 percent of its passenger traffic flies the airline, based in Dallas.
"Southwest Airlines began serving BWI Marshall Airport 28 years ago, and we are honored to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the airport, and to Maryland, by progressing with plans to build a first-class maintenance hangar to support our employees and customers," Landon Nitschke, Southwest's senior vice president of technical operations, said in a statement.
"We appreciate the state of Maryland for the continued support of Southwest's growth, investment, and presence at BWI Marshall Airport. We look forward to marking this next milestone in Southwest's continued service to the region."
BWI also is a major airport in the D.C. area. While it is much closer to Baltimore than Washington, the airport operates a train service for passengers to travel to and from the nation's capital from the airport station to Washington D.C., and it is accessible via interstate highway as well.
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