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  • Renee Cluff

    Email Renee Cluff

    Expansion places Cairns business at the forefront of Asia-Pacific aircraft maintenance

    A $4.5-million expansion of the Hawker Pacific hangar at Cairns Airport has created dozens of new jobs as well as securing new, multi-million dollar contracts.

    The hangar has been expanded by 50%, with the State Government helping to fund the work through an injection of just over $2-million.

    Sales Director Neville Evans told Tropic Now it now houses five heavy maintenance bays, up from three, and can also accommodate larger aircraft.

    “In all, we can now take 12 aircraft in the hangar.

    “We only opened that extension in early November and already, it’s full,” he said.

    Most exciting, is that crews can now work on Fokker 100 aircraft, which has led to a profitable new contract.

    “We’ve been working with Alliance Airlines which operate Fokker 70 and Fokker 100s,” said Mr Evans.

    “They operate these aircraft all throughout Australia and are the biggest in the world but based in Queensland, so we now provide maintenance support for them, so we’re keeping jobs in Australia.

    “The Fokker 100s were generally going out of the country for maintenance.”

    The company has employed an extra 20 staff members in recent months to cope with the extra work.

    It has plans to hire another 20 in the near future.

    “The spinoff is you have to create jobs and that’s what we’ve done,” Mr Evans said.

    “We’ve hit the number already, so we’re going way beyond the expectations.

    “We’ve been very bullish in the fact that we live here, so we want the work to be here.”

    Mr Evans said as well as permanent staff, the company also employs sub-contractors, which number 20 to 30 at any one time.

    Hawker Pacific, which has been in Cairns since 1987, also maintains the planes of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Skytrans, Heavilift, Virgin Airlines and Marshall Islands Airlines.

    “We don’t have our own aircraft so everyone who brings their aircraft to us wants to bring our aircraft to us.

    “We’re pulling aircraft out of Asia, the Pacific Islands and domestically throughout Australia.

    “People also send in avionic components to us in cardboard boxes from all over the world, so we’ll be trying to expand that business as well.”