Growth at Boeing's San Antonio aviation maintenance facility will likely spur aerospace & defense staffing in South Texas as the company expands its massive facility at the newly-redeveloped Kelly Air Force Base, the Wichita Eagle reports.
According to the news source, the huge high-bay hangar located on the premises is the largest of its kind in the world, and only a hop, skip and jump away from Boeing's 1.4 million square feet of building space and 3.5 million square feet of parking pads, ramps and run-up areas. The site is home to one of the world's largest maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities in the world, and will soon take on such responsibilities once performed at Boeing's Kansas plant.
The move, expected by the end of 2013, will create more than 400 jobs in San Antonio's aerospace and defense sector, adding to the 2,700 jobs Boeing has already created in Texas' second-largest city. Boeing first announced plans to close its Wichita factory in January, and stated maintenance work on Air Force tankers would be directed to Washington.
Boeing plans to ramp up activity in San Antonio mostly due to much lower overhead costs, and added that the completion of programs and impending defense budget cuts created costly unused space in Wichita. According to Mark Bass, a Boeing vice president, operating costs are expected to be 70 percent lower in San Antonio.
Kevin Devine, Boeing’s San Antonio site leader, said the empty or little-used space in Wichita was a major problem.
"We were working really hard on overhead costs," he said. "But the biggest single cost that we had was the structure. You look at the people; you look at the rates; it really wasn’t that. The cost of the facility itself was the cost that we couldn’t … get around."
According to the San Antonio Business Journal, company officials are moving operations to Texas to prepare for deeper military spending cuts, however the effect of the cuts on the San Antonio plant are somewhat unclear.
Still, the company should be relatively well-prepared for the cuts, as it has also worked in recent months to extend its reach into the private sector to wean off government contracts in San Antonio.