The town has the right weather – an average humidity of only 25 percent, which protects the planes from corrosion, and major repair and overhaul costs, particularly on engines. Infrastructure at Alice Springs Airport is excellent, with a 2.5-kilometre runway, a one million litre fuel farm, no curfew and a dedicated storage facility.
There is also plenty of room for growth. And major road and rail transport is immediately accessible to carry aircraft engines, parts and recycled materials. “Alice Springs is perfect,” says Tom Vincent, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage, which sub-leases 110 hectares of land at the Central Australian airport. “It ticks all the boxes from an environmental perspective and infrastructure.”
The Alice Springs Asia Pacific Airport Storage and Maintenance Facility is undergoing rapid expansion, which will allow it to increase storage capacity from 25 aircraft up to 70. It is capable of handling the Airbus A380, the largest aircraft in the world, and typically takes nothing smaller than a Boeing 737. The facility can store aircraft from anywhere in the world. A further 50,000 square metres of storage roads and 20,000 square metres of apron are to be laid.
Expansion was facilitated by the Northern Territory Government providing a $1 million infrastructure grant and a concessional loan of up to $2 million, triggering a total investment of $5.8 million – with a further flow-on effect of $5.2 million. The Alice Springs facility, which has been storing and servicing national and international commercial aircraft since 2014, is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.
Previously, aircraft storage services were almost exclusively undertaken in the United States. Airlines, leasing companies and trading companies all use aircraft storage services at various points in an aircraft life cycle to manage low use, over capacity, fleet disposals, lease returns, repossessions and post-acquisition transitions.
The aircraft storage facilities are called boneyards in America and graveyards elsewhere in the world. But despite popular opinion, the planes aren’t just left out in the open to “die” – they cost many millions of dollars each and are maintained to a strict schedule until being returned to service or recycled. Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage customers include SilkAir, Fiji Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, AerCap and Icelandair.
The Territory Government set up the $89 million co-investment Local Jobs Fund to help create jobs by accelerating “major and significant” projects.
The fund has four elements:
• Loan guarantees – support for fast-growing Territory businesses to expand and create new Territory jobs. The guarantees are issued in favour of lending institutions providing funding for investments such as the expansion of production capacity or export capability development.
• Business investment concessional loans – matched funding to lower the risk of project opportunities, bring forward private investment and deliver projects to final investment. All projects seeking loans must demonstrate how they will create and sustain new local jobs and drive increased economic activity.
• Equity co-investments – support for high potential and innovative Territory ventures to secure funding and accelerate business development and growth into national and global markets, stimulating economic activity and creating Territory jobs.
• Grants program – priority sector grants for consortiums in Territory priority growth and developing sectors, and infrastructure grants targeted at transformational economic growth projects that create a step-increase in NT economic activity, demonstrate broad economic benefits for the Territory and create enduring new jobs.
To be eligible for support under the Local Jobs Fund a business must have a significant presence in the Territory; high-growth and job creation potential; sound governance, management and operating systems; and be registered for corporate and tax purposes in Australia.
The Territory’s growth and developing sectors, which are set out in the Territory Government’s Economic Development Framework, are agribusiness, tourism, energy and minerals, international education and training, and Defence and defence support industries.
Developing sectors are tropical health and research, creative industries, renewable energy, environmental services, and human services.
For more information, visit jobsfund.nt.gov.au