The joint-venture company that runs Essendon Airport and the surrounding commercial precinct Essendon Fields hopes to encourage more regional services from the close-in Melbourne airport through a new tourism initiative.
Essendon Fields has established a Regional Tourism Group (EFRTG) that includes representatives from the airport’s aviation operators to grow the number of flights to regional Victoria, southern NSW and Tasmania and support Essendon Fields Operators (EFO).
“The purpose of the Essendon Fields Regional Tourism Group (EFRTG) is to increase awareness of regional tourism including Essendon Airport as a tourism hub, the destinations serviced from Essendon Airport and the capabilities of the EFOs,” Essendon Fields chief executive Chris Cowan said in a statement.
“Essendon Fields is gearing up to attract a significant share of Melbourne’s international and domestic visitors. The EFRTG will give our operators greater collective marketing strength and a forum to develop co-operative tourism package concepts, opportunities to aggregate and streamline products/services to maximise distribution and provide a unified tourism voice.”
Cowan said Essendon Airport recently introduced a free shuttle bus to and from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport and Essendon train station.
“We encourage independent and business travellers as well as sporting and social groups to choose Essendon Fields to start their journey to regional Victoria and beyond,” Cowan said.
Currently, Essendon Airport, which is a busy charter airport, has regular public transport (RPT) service from Free Spirit Airlines, Jetgo and Sharp Airlines, according to the airport’s website, serving regional centres such as Dubbo, Flinders Island and Merimbula. Alliance Airlines also operates charter flights from the airport.
Cowan said passengers numbers on the airport’s regional flights had grown from 10,000 to 50,000 over the past two years.
Essendon Airport’s heritage-listed main passenger terminal is undergoing a $20 million refurbishment due to be completed in late 2017. The airport has also improved runway overlays and built two new hangars at in recent times.
The airport is also the home base to about 40 corporate jets and is understood to have the most number of international movements outside of the major airports in Australia.
The likes of ExecuJet and Executive Airlines are based at Essendon, as well as Victoria’s emergency services fleet.
Meanwhile, the Essendon Fields precinct features car dealerships, a retail shopping centre, and from early 2017 a 166-room hotel.
Sharp Airlines expected to carry about 20,000 passengers on its flights to and from Essendon Airport in 2016, its managing director Malcolm Sharp said, with King Island and Flinders Island holiday and golf packages proving a popular attraction.
Essendon Airport Pty Ltd, is a joint-venture between Linfox and Beck Corporation, holds a long-term lease to operate and develop the airport. The lease is for 50 years with an option for a further term of 49 years, ending on June 30 2098.