The Maryland Board of Public Works has sanctioned two contracts for the construction and management of a Southwest Airlines maintenance facility at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in the US.

A construction contract of $44.6m has been approved for the site’s development, along with the lease agreement for Southwest Airlines to build and operate the maintenance centre.

The 27-acre site will have an apron space to accommodate up to eight Southwest Airlines jets, a hangar to house up to three Boeing 737 aircraft, associated office and workshop space.

The total cost of the maintenance facility has been estimated at around $135m, including an investment of nearly $90m from the airline.

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd K Rutherford said: “This would be another key maintenance facility for Southwest Airlines and enhances an established long term and strategic relationship. Our administration continues to support BWI as a major transportation hub, as well as a catalyst for tourism, trade and economic development.”

Southwest technical operations senior vice president Landon Nitschke said: “Southwest Airlines began serving BWI Marshall Airport 28 years ago and we are honoured to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the airport, and to Maryland, by progressing with plans to build a first-class maintenance hangar to support our employees and customers.”

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According to Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater, this development is expected to ‘benefit the airport and the airline while supporting jobs.’

In addition, the new maintenance facility is said to be the first in the Northeastern US for Southwest Airlines.

The airport’s passenger traffic is gradually improving as the region continues its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, BWI’s departing passenger traffic increased 120% compared to the same period in August 2020.