Qantas eyes Brisbane as sole heavy maintenance base

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Qantas Airways will eventually have only one heavy maintenance base in Australia, down from the three it has at the moment.

Australia's flag carrier said this morning that it would close its Boeing 737 heavy maintenance base at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport this year. This work will move to Brisbane, where the Oneworld alliance member also maintains its Airbus A330s and Boeing 767s.

Its Avalon base near Geelong will continue to support the airline's Boeing 747-400 fleet, some maintenance work on 737s and 767s, as well as aircraft reconfiguration work and one-off maintenance tasks.

Eventually, however, Qantas is likely to have Brisbane as its only main heavy maintenance base in Australia. This will happen as the older aircraft such as the 747s and 767s are phased out of its fleet, and newer aircraft such as the Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s that will require less maintenance are inducted.

"At the end of the day, Qantas will have only one heavy maintenance base," the airline's chief executive Alan Joyce confirmed during a conference call. "Brisbane is the likely base as that has the newest and most high-tech facilities.

Qantas executives add that there is no timeframe for the closure of the Avalon base, saying that they "do not have to make that call" at the moment as there is still plenty of heavy maintenance work that can be done at the facility.