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Construction lift-off for aviation maintenance hub

Norwich Airport invests £7 million in hangar and workshop for KLM UK Engineering

A ground-breaking ceremony has marked the official construction start of a £7 million aircraft maintenance hangar and workshop at Norwich Airport.

Due for completion by August 2020, the facilities underline the airport’s reputation as a centre of excellence in the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) aviation sector.

The hub provides KLM UK Engineering, which employs 390 staff at the airport, with additional capacity to provide high-quality aircraft maintenance and repair services to customers worldwide.

Norwich Airport, owned and operated by Regional & City Airports (RCA), which also owns and operates Bournemouth Airport, Coventry Airport and Exeter Airport, is investing £7 million.

It is part of RCA’s vision to help smaller regional airports prosper through effective management and collaboration, enabling them to benefit from economies of scale and sharing of best practice traditionally enjoyed by larger hub airports.

Norwich Airport managing director Richard Pace said: “This is a great milestone and is the next step in our aspirations to make Norwich a world-class centre of excellence for aviation MRO.

KLM UK Engineering is a major employer locally, with hundreds of skilled staff, and the new hangar and workshop facilities will be a superb and much-needed asset.

“Our economic input is already a proud one here at Norwich Airport; we have 274 staff and support, directly and indirectly, 1,240 jobs, with approximately £70 million contributed to the local economy.”

Rigby Real Estate, the Rigby Group’s property division, is managing the project, with a 54,000 sq ft hangar and 15,500 sq ft workshop.

MJS, a regional contractor in East Anglia, has been appointed as the construction company.

Peter van der Horst, managing director at KLM UK Engineering, said“I am delighted to be breaking ground on our hangar project, especially today as it is a very significant week for the AFIKLM E&M brand, with all areas celebrating the KLM 100 Years.

“We will be celebrating both these significant milestones with our team in Norwich and look forward to the building of these great new facilities.”

KLM UK Engineering also delivers aircraft engineering apprenticeships and training through its technical training college located in the neighbouring International Aviation Academy Norwich.

Headquartered at Norwich, where it has operated for 40-plus years, KLM UK Engineering currently has five fully-equipped heavy maintenance bays across three hangars at the airport.

It has extensive experience on many aircraft types including Embraer170/190, Boeing 737 (all series), Airbus A320 family, BAe 146 and Avro RJ, and Fokker 70/100 types.

The new hangar gives Satys Air Livery UK the opportunity to take on the hangar vacated by KLM UK Engineering, consolidating Norwich as the head office of Aftermarket and VIP Painting Division of the Satys Group and the largest place in Europe for repainting narrow body aircrafts (four hangars).

In the year to March, RCA welcomed 2.4 million passengers and handled 227,000 flights, serving as gateway for the seven million people that live in the airports’ passenger catchment areas. Turnover increased to £58.1m (2018: £45.2m) with EBITDA at £17.3m (2018: £7.5m).

There were just under 37,000 aircraft movements at Norwich Airport, for the year ending March 2019, with passenger numbers at just over 543,900.

Pictured on site for the ground-breaking ceremony, from left, James Shipley of KLM UK Engineering,  Richard Pace, Managing Director of Norwich Airport, Peter van der Horst, Managing Director, KLM UK Engineering, and James Walters, Development Surveyor at Rigby Group plc.