Aviation Technical Services (ATS), the Everett-based aircraft maintenance and repair firm, said Friday it plans to open a maintenance base in Kansas City, Mo., eventually creating about 600 new jobs.

ATS announced plans Friday to invest $7 million and lease 607,000 square feet at the former TWA and American Airlines maintenance hangars at Kansas City International Airport.

Matt Yerbic, ATS chief executive, said the firm will initially employ 150 to 200 people there, starting in the second quarter of 2014.

The plan is to service commercial and military-transport jets, with work ranging from painting fuselages to airframe maintenance.

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ATS will handle more than 150 aircraft a year when it is fully operational, Yerbic said.

The company employs about 1,100 people in Everett and an additional 100 at a new facility opened this year in Moses Lake.

The new operation is ATS’
first outside Washington state.

Yerbic said ATS is expanding, not moving out of Washington, and that its work schedule in Everett is reasonably full for the next two to three years.

The company is also negotiating with the city of Spokane with an eye to opening another facility there, though Yerbic said that probably won’t happen until mid-to-late 2015.

“We truly are excited about this opportunity,” Yerbic said. “We look to be good partners with the community and look to grow in Kansas City. This is the first major growth step this company has taken in a long time.”

Yerbic sees an opportunity for expansion because airplane-maintenance work that North American airlines were sending out to China and other Asian countries is returning to the U.S. because labor costs in Asia have risen along with the cost of fuel used to fly the planes there.

Ready to expand, ATS has been conducting a site search for months.

Yerbic said what tipped the balance for Kansas City was its central location, within an hour’s flight of half a dozen U.S. carrier hubs used by his customers.

The city didn’t offer any tax incentives to ATS, Yerbic said, but will provide favorable rates on both the lease and the utility costs.

The state kicked in about $10 million in job-training assistance as well as tax credits on new equipment, he said.

“ATS had many options for its expansion, and the fact that they chose Kansas City shows that our city continues to set itself apart from its peers,” Mayor Sly James said in a statement.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2931 or dgates@seattletimes.com