Qantas Airways has unveiled a new $30-million hangar at Los Angeles International Airport big enough to hold and perform maintenance on the world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380.
The hangar, the only facility in the U.S. designed specifically to hold the behemoth plane, was touted as signaling the airline's commitment to Los Angeles as well as to travelers making long-haul flights between the U.S. and Australia.
"This is a win-win opportunity," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility Friday.
The hangar is 480 feet by 370 feet and 12 stories tall, big enough to hold up to four passenger jets. The facility replaces a smaller 1950s-era hangar.
Qantas flies 40 flights per week between Los Angeles and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia, primarily using A380s and Boeing 747 jets. The carrier plans to begin flying the giant Boeing 787 Dreamliner in December.
Qantas isn't the only carrier relying on the A380. Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Asiana, Emirates and Korean Air also fly the massive A380 jet for long-haul flights from LAX.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the new hangar will make maintenance 20% more efficient because it allows more planes to fit in the facility at the same time. When Qantas wanted to work on an A380 in the old, smaller hangar, most of the plane wouldn't fit inside, he said.
Joyce said that Qantas also plans to rent out the facility to other carriers at LAX.
Deborah Flint, chief executive officer of Los Angeles World Airports, said Qantas' hangar was built in a new location to make room for the airport's Midfield Satellite Concourse, a new facility that will add 11 gates between the north and south runways.
Construction for the new concourse is expected to begin in the next few months, with completion schedule by 2019. The facility will connect to the Tom Bradley International Terminal through an underground walkway.
LAX now operates 12 gates that can accommodate the bigger A380 and will add six more gates when the new Midfield Satellite Concourse is completed in 2020.
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