Wales’ regional government is aiming to find within two years new occupants for the huge, disused maintenance hangar complex at St Athan air base near Cardiff.
The 61,000m² (656,000ft²) complex – comprising three maintenance hangars, separate paint bays, a component shop and office space – was completed for the UK defence ministry in 2004 to support the country’s fast jets in one location. The centralisation strategy was then abandoned, however, and the facility was subsequently used to support the Royal Air Force’s Vickers VC10 tanker fleet, which has since been decommissioned.
There has “definitely” been interest from potential buyers in parts of the vast site, says David George from the department for economy, science and transport. He is confident that the facility will be sold within two years.
However, this will likely happen in individual sections rather than as a whole, he says. The near-15,000m² component shop could be “easily” subdivided into six units. The three maintenance hangars, which form all part of the main building, could also be sold individually.
At 14m in height and around 47m in width, the existing hangar doors can accommodate Airbus A320-sized aircraft. Types with taller fins could pass through if additional tail gates were installed at the top of the doors. The building’s ceiling height is just over 20m.
However, the shape of the three hangars would be unusual for commercial aircraft MRO operations, as the doors are installed on the narrow walls of the 180 x 64m bays.
As the site has been designed for fighter jets, the paint facilities can only accommodate relatively small aircraft such as helicopters or business jets.
Among the potential buyers of the complex is MRO start-up Cardiff Aviation, which started operations in a separate two-bay hangar at St Athan air base a year ago.