United Airlines opens new widebody hangar at Dulles
- At 125,000 square feet, the new facility is large enough to accommodate maintenance work on two widebody airliners simultaneously. Pictured is United 777-200. Photo: Kris Van Cleave/WJLA
(WJLA) - United Airlines chairman, president and CEO Jeff Smisek welcomes the pending merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines, saying consolidations have been good for the industry and his carrier is ready to compete with the "new American."
“I work in an industry where your competitor can enter your market at 540 miles an hour,” said Smisek at an event to mark the opening of United’s brand new $45 million maintenance hangar at Dulles International Airport Thursday afternoon. “This is a very dynamic business. We are used to responding to that and taking competitive action."
At 125,000 square feet, the new facility is large enough to accommodate maintenance work on two widebody airliners simultaneously. Widebody airplanes in United’s fleet include the 747, 767, 777 and the brand new 787.
“This is the best we have in all of United. It’ll be the model for all the hangars we are building in the future,” Smisek said.
United says the addition of the Dulles maintenance hangar will result in fewer maintenance events and reduce the amount of time an aircraft is out of service because it can be fixed on the spot. Construction took about a year and involved more than 600 area construction workers.
“The opening of United’s new state-of-the-art maintenance hangar further solidifies Dulles International’s position as a world-class hub for aviation,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in a release.
While United operates flights out of all three airports in the D.C. region, Dulles is a hub airport with nearly 270 daily departures, handling more than 14 million passengers a year, according to MWAA.
“We are keenly interested in improving what I would call the ‘mature’ facilities that we operate out of here today,” Smisek said while responding to a question about possible future upgrades to the passenger terminals United operates at Dulles.
It’s an issue the airline has reviewed repeatedly in recent years and says it needs to work with MWAA to find cost efficient ways to those improvements.
The new hangar will service its first widebody airplane next month.
An exclusive one-on-one interview with United’s Jeff Smisek will air on an upcoming edition of Washington Business Report.