DENVER (KDVR) — Southwest Airlines opened a massive new hangar at Denver International Airport on Thursday.

The opening comes as the carrier works to fill new jobs in Denver and beyond. FOX31 was granted exclusive access to the 130,000 sq. ft. hangar before Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re super excited about this hangar,” said Kurt Kinder, VP of maintenance operations, Southwest Airlines.

The hangar at DIA is the seventh company-wide for Southwest. Kinder said the facility means jobs, jobs and more jobs.

“There’s just so many skills that we’re looking for,” Kinder said.

Southwest won’t give a total of job openings, but the airline said it’s looking for people to fill various positions. Expertise in computers, electronics, flight controls, sheet metal and engines is needed at the hangar.

The addition of more gates at the airport will also help Southwest build out its operations in Denver. Sixteen new Southwest gates will start opening this Spring.

Until recently, Southwest depended on its competitors’ hangars to tackle its unscheduled maintenance at DIA.

“We would knock on United’s door or Frontier’s door, and they were always there to help,” Kinder explained. “Now we have a facility here, and I’m sure we’ll have to pay that back somewhere.”

The hangar is opening as airlines bounce back following the most hectic months of the pandemic.

“We saw the flight loads drop out from underneath us,” Kinder said.

While Southwest looked for ways to save money, Kinder said the company continued building out the new hangar at DIA. The commitment shows how much of a priority Denver is for Southwest. That priority extends to Southwest’s competitors as well.

Airlines are hiring

Denver-based Frontier Airlines said it is looking to hire more than 50 mechanics in Denver along with several dozen people at its hangar and at DIA.

United said it expects to add up to 3,000 “well paying, union-jobs over the coming years.” United also said its current $825 million investment to add gates at DIA will bring its Denver total to 90 gates.

Below are links to job portals for some of the largest airlines in operation at DIA:

Frontier Airlines: https://www.flyfrontier.com/careers

United Airlines: https://careers.united.com/job-search-results/

Southwest Airlines: https://careers.southwestair.com/

Delta Airlines: https://www.delta.com/us/en/careers/overview

American Airlines: https://jobs.aa.com/

Spirit Airlines: https://careers.spirit.com/careers-home/

Hangar’s environmental focus

Southwest officials say its new Denver hangar is energy efficient. 

“We could put three airplanes in this hangar,” Kinder said. “We could park eight outside the hangar. It’s super-efficient and safe.”

In older hangars, it is not unusual to see cords coming down from the ceiling or spread across the floor, Kinder said. The new hangar allows for underground power and air sources.

To save on money and energy, a radiant heating system is used to keep mechanics comfortable after hangar doors are closed.

“We capture the heat up, and then, as soon as the doors come back down, then we have fans that bring that captured hot air back down,” Kinder explained.