BA mulls new MRO hangars in South Wales

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British Airways Engineering is searching for additional space for its airframe heavy maintenance operations in South Wales.

The company said it is "exploring a number of options to increase capacity" due to the volume of work scheduled to place at the Welsh site in 2012.

Media reports have linked the MRO business with a military airfield at nearby St Athan, currently home to the UK Defence Aircraft Repair Agency, whose backlog of work runs out next year. BA declined to comment on a potential move for the site.

BA Engineering's sister company, Iberia Maintenance, has previously ruled out any large expansion of its airframe maintenance operations in Western Europe due to cost pressures.

However, as BA has ordered Airbus A380s, it may follow the lead of its European rivals, Air France and Lufthansa, who built new hangars for the double-deck aircraft at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt International airports.

Another option for BA would be to outsource some maintenance work on its existing fleet, for example to Iberia Maintenance, and thus free-up spare capacity at the Cardiff base.