Posted at: 04/29/2014 5:21 PM
Updated at: 04/29/2014 5:40 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
The AAR maintenance facility in Duluth is reaching a milestone just 18 months into their operation.
Tuesday, AAR celebrated completion of their 100th aircraft. They also announced plans to add jobs and a long-term partnership with their customer, Air Canada.
AAR reopened the old Northwest maintenance base back in November of 2012. It stood empty two years ago, but hundreds of employees, local leaders, and aviation representatives packed the hangar to celebrate the milestone.
AAR and Air Canada, however, announced they won't be stopping at 100.
"We are done negotiating and will be signing a 5-year, long-term agreement with Air Canada," said Dany Kleiman, Vice President for Repair & Engineering with AAR Aviation Services Group.
For the employees, a 5-year agreement means stability.
"Jobs. It's good, good for our career and looking into the whole future," said support tech, Jacob Johnson.
Project Manager Chris Rankila started at the facility when it was still under Northwest operation. When that closed he was transferred to Indiana, but now he is back home in Duluth at AAR and building a new home here.
He said this long-term partnership will keep them growing.
"We've got people from New York, we've got people from San Diego, we've got people from Canada, and Miami. They're coming up here looking for places to live and they're bringing their families," he said.
Now, they'll be looking for more employees. AAR announced Tuesday they will be adding a fourth maintenance line in September. Currently, they work on three planes at a time. The fourth plane will create another 55 positions.
"It's room for advancement for people that are here and room for more jobs for people that want to come here," said Trent Butterfield, a lead technician.
The four lines of maintenance will run through 2019.