Kelowna’s largest private sector employer is about to get bigger.
KF Aerospace announced Thursday a $3-million expansion of its south hangar that, by early 2020, will mean another 75 jobs for Kelowna’s airline maintenance giant.
It’s the latest in a series of expansions that have nearly doubled the company’s maintenance capacity.
“Over the last four years or so, we have added on our north hangar, added on the central hangar, now we’re expanding the south hangar. And, I suspect, knowing Barry (Lapointe) and the business, we’re not done yet,” said corporate services V-P Grant Stevens.
“We have increased our maintenance capacity in Kelowna through expansions by about 45 per cent. This $3-million investment is a long-term commitment in Kelowna. It allows us to grow with our current customer base.”
That customer base includes WestJet, the Canadian Department of National Defence, Iceland Air, Lyndon Air Cargo, Northern Air Cargo and Aloha.
Stevens says the expansion will add about 21,000 square feet of space. He says the company’s five commercial hangars will allow KF Aerospace to house up to 10 aircraft at any time.
According to Stevens, the company could not have expanded as quickly without the assistance of Okanagan College, which has doubled its output of graduates over the past two years, which is part of an overall hiring strategy.
“The second part is we’ve been recruiting across Canada. Over the last couple of years, I’d say we’ve brought about 100 people from across Canada to Kelowna to work for us.
“We have been working with the government, and have approvals to bring in people from out of country. We’ll probably staff 40 to 50 positions this year with immigrants from other countries who have great experience in aviation, and that allows them to come into Canada and become a permanent citizen in Canada.”
KF Aerospace is also housing six of WestJet’s MAX 8 fleet, which have been grounded following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane last month.
Stevens says those planes will undergo some interior modifications, which have been scheduled for later in the year.
He’s also excited about a repair the company will do on a Twin Otter.
“We believe that aircraft is going to get ferried down to Kelowna in a C-17, which is a pretty cool aircraft.”
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