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Virgin Blue to build maintenance hangar at Sydney Airport

Virgin Blue will construct a maintenance hangar at Sydney Airport as part of a new engineering base to support its operations at its busiest airport.

The base, due to be completed late next year pending approval, will cost over A$40 million ($40.2 million) and will support up to 300 jobs, New South Wales Premiere Kristina Keneally says.

"Having a dedicated maintenance base here in Sydney, complementing those we already have in Brisbane and Melbourne, will create significant benefits to our business in terms of optimising scheduling and network operations and also generating potential revenue opportunities by offering use of the facility to partner airlines," says Virgin Blue's CEO John Borghetti.

The hangar will be for line and base maintenance, he adds. It can accommodate four narrow-body aircraft or two narrow-body aircraft and one wide-body aircraft.

Virgin Blue operates 95 flights a day through Sydney and 15 to 20 aircraft overnight at the airport every night, the carrier says.

The Virgin Blue Group currently operates 53 Boeing 737s, five 777-300ERs, and 16 Embraer E-190s, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database.

The carrier's six Embraer E-170 aircraft will leave the fleet this year while its first of four Airbus A330-200 aircraft will arrive next month.

The carrier yesterday announced an order for up to 18 ATR 72 aircraft. The aircraft will be operated in the Virgin livery by Western Australia's Skywest.

Sydney Airport has welcomed Virgin Blue's decision to build a maintenance hangar at the airport, as well as the airline group's first flight today between Sydney and Abu Dhabi.

"The new hangar and maintenance base will create jobs and the new service between Sydney and Abu Dhabi provides more choice for international visitors and Australian travellers alike," says the airport's CEO Russell Balding.

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