Delta Air Lines' Technical Operations business has been named an approved maintenance center for engine maker Rolls-Royce, a move expected to support jobs at the airline's Atlanta base for decades.
The deal makes Delta TechOps the first independent Rolls-Royce approved maintenance center. Delta maintenance workers will overhaul advanced engines for Airbus jets Delta has ordered, as well as jet engines for other airlines.
That is expected to generate work for the next 30 years for Delta's TechOps business.
As part of the deal, Atlanta-based Delta will build a new 100,000-square foot engine maintenance facility in its massive TechOps site at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The new engine shop would open for operations in 2019.
"This will make Hartsfield-Jackson not only the world's busiest airport, but a hub for engine maintenance," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who shared the stage with Delta and Rolls-Royce as they announced the deal Monday. "Over 5,000 jobs with Tech's will remain in Atlanta for years to come."
Delta TechOps is the largest airline maintenance, repair and overhaul provider in North America, working on Delta jets and more than 150 other customers' planes with a particular focus on highly-skilled maintenance work such as engine overhauls. Delta already overhauls more than 600 jet engines a year at facilities in Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Delta CEO Richard Anderson also said the agreement ensures thousands of TechOps jobs are secure for decades. "No one's built a large engine shop like this in the United States for 30 or 40 years," Anderson said.
Reed said the Rolls-Royce partnership is worth $100 million to $200 million and will help strengthen Atlanta's reputation as a logistics hub for the Southeast.
Delta TechOps will compete with Rolls-Royce's own overhaul operations for engine work, working on Trent 7000 commercial jet engines as well as Trent XWB engines. Those engines will be on 25 Airbus A330neo jets and 25 Airbus A350 jets that Delta has ordered.
The deal also breathes new life into an old hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson, because Delta will move some aircraft maintenance work to an old Southern Airways hangar to make room for the new engine facility at TechOps.
The Southern hangar is big enough to hold four narrow-body planes, according to Anderson. It is also known as the former Northwest Airlines hangar, now called the City South hangar. The airport had previously planned to demolish the City South hangar to make room for more cargo facilities.