The middle of Australia might be mistaken as not having much, being a country subject to the absolute tyranny of distance. However, much like the deserts of California and Nevada, its hot and dry conditions conveniently make it a perfect location to store aircraft. This was identified by Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) which set up shop in Alice Springs in 2014, and since the onset of global aviation crises such as the Boeing 737 MAX grounding and the COVID-19 pandemic has swelled to accommodate more than 100 aircraft at the facility.
Starting with $6M AUD raised from private investors, APAS last year received a $3M concessional loan and $500K grant from the Northern Territory government to co-fund a new stage of expansion which will see its capacity increased.
Based at Alice Springs Airport, which is capable of handling Airbus A380s, APAS is situated within nonstop widebody flight range to most Asia-Pacific hubs such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Taipei, and Tokyo. It is therefore with no surprise that airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and Cebu Pacific have identified APAS as the ideal place to store their aircraft that would otherwise be sitting unused in humid environments at their home airports.
What was once an investment for the long term forecast demand of new aircraft for the Asia-Pacific (which would replace older aircraft that would be expected to end up in Alice Springs), has resulted in a facility that was perfectly equipped to handle the effects of the travel downturn on the aviation industry. APAS have also started to utilise Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport to store ex-Virgin Australia A330s, 777-300ERs and 737s.
APAS now have over 70 staff working across their facilities, in order to ensure every aircraft is looked after and maintained per their preservation requirements.
The Aviation Studio decided to check this out for themselves, and chartered a ride with Alice Springs Helicopters to explore the APAS facility from above.
The 737 MAX grounding has also seen Fiji Airways and SilkAir store their aircraft at Alice Springs, where they are now being prepared for return to service after the grounding was lifted by the FAA in November 2020.
A big thanks to Alice Springs Helicopters for being so flexible with our requirements, and a special shoutout to our pilot Kat for getting us to where we needed to be to get the best shots!