Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings believes the airport will survive even if Jetstar pulls its five flights a day to the Lindsay Fox-owned facility.
The current agreement between Jetstar and the operators of Avalon Airport and the Victorian government that was signed in December 2013 and understood to be worth about $11 million is due to end at the end of April.
The Qantas subsidiary and the state government are in discussions about a new deal and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday he was open to offering Jetstar and Avalon Airport a fresh support package to ensure the airline continues to fly to the airport.
Andrews said any new support package would have conditions attached that called for more flights to Avalon, which is located about 20km from Geelong and 55km from the Melbourne CBD.
It was understood Jetstar’s five Sydney-Avalon services a day were loss-making for the airline. Jetstar first started flights to Avalon in 2004 and is currently the only airline offering flights to the airport.
Qantas recently closed its Boeing 747 maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at Avalon.
Giddings said there were between 500,000-600,000 passengers year that arrived in Avalon on Jetstar flights. Moreover, about eight million travellers have flown on the airline’s Avalon services.
While Giddings acknowledged the threat of Jetstar leaving was serious, he stressed the airport did have a future regardless of Jetstar’s decision as a freight hub, an industrial centre or even with other carriers coming in to replace Jetstar.
“I think Avalon Airport’s future for the medium to longer term is fantastic,” Giddings told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday.
“You look at the major cities around the world and all of them really have two good airports.
“I think that Melbourne is just on the verge of probably – given the congestion around Tullamarine – really needing that second airport.”
Tigerair Australia also flew to Avalon when it was known as Tiger Airways Australia between 2010 and 2011 and could be considered as a replacement for Jetstar should it choose to cease operations at Avalon.
“From a Tiger perspective we will continue to evaluate different opportunities as things unfold, if they unfold,” Virgin Australia chief executive and Tigerair Australia chairman John Borghetti told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
Tigerair is 100 per cent owned by Virgin.
Giddings said the airport was “hopeful that we can get another carrier in if Jetstar go”.
“We’d love to get Tiger in. I think Tiger, this is a natural airport for them, it’s low-cost airport and it is an airport that they can operate freely in with good infrastructure and I think it would be wonderful,” Giddings said.