60 regional airports share $40m in upgrades

written by Adam Thorn | June 15, 2020
Light aircraft in front of Gladstone Airport’s redeveloped terminal during an open day on 17 April.

Ballarat, Merimbula and Whyalla are among 60 regional airports to share $41 million in funding for upgrades under a new federal government initiative.

The grants, which can be viewed in full here, are part of a larger $100 million package announced during last year’s budget, but which now take on increased importance as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Regional airports have been particularly hard hit as the federal government has yet to announce any specific support for them, unlike airlines which have benefited from underwritten routes and a reduction in fees and levies.

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said, “We are investing $100 million over four years from 2019-20 to 2022-23 to help owners of regional airports right across Australia deliver safer runways, taxiways and other safety upgrades such as new fencing and safety equipment.”

The varied list of projects include:

  • A $5 million runway upgrade at Ballarat Airport in Victoria
  • $4.5 million for runway works at Merimbula Airport in NSW
  • $2.45 million for runway and taxiway works at Whyalla Airport in South Australia
  • $1.73 million for a range of work at Gladstone Airport in Queensland
  • $1.66 million for resurfacing works at Albany Airport in Western Australia

Unlike airports, airlines have received a host of packages to help them navigate the COVID-19 downturn.

Smaller regional carriers have enjoyed a $298 million package to underwrite essential routes; while larger airlines benefited from a waiver of fees and levies worth up to $715 million alongside a government-backed $165 million minimum domestic network.

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Last month, Mildura Airport chairman Peter O’Donnell warned many smaller airports would struggle to survive without specific coronavirus help.

“We’ll get through this, but my concern is that the regional networks will be decimated because airports will be fundamentally without funds or bankrupted,” O’Donnell said.

Many smaller airports, such as Mildura, are ineligible to pay their staff JobKeeper because they are technically owned by the council, which excludes them from the program.

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5 Comments

  • Sandy Reith

    says:

    Government would get real value from it’s airport spending if it would bring in some easy reforms for General Aviation (GA), e.g. independent instructors, ASIC relief (the unsupportable police check ID, a biennial $300) while it overhauls CASA. We’ve lost hundreds of flying schools, charter operators and maintenance businesses due to the thirty two failed experimental governance of aviation by an independent Commonwealth corporate. CASA has managed to over regulate and fee gouge GA to such an extent it is just a shadow of it’s former self. The Minister must take charge and bring realism back by harmonising with the US or NZ.

  • Alan Pace

    says:

    Reboot the old DCA (Dept of Civil Aviation) theme of renationalising every Australian Airport. It once worked excellently until the coal ition decided to profit from privatising or handing aerodromes to councils on a holus bolus basis, leaving the Public aghast. Now people wonder why their aerodrome has largely gone. GA & Regional Airline Services stand to benefit from these new news. Also, a higher standard of proper Airline aircraft (not old GA planes) is needed, so some Fed Money/funding could go bush.

  • Peter

    says:

    Sandy Reith is correct in saying general aviation in Australia has been destroyed in recent years by over regulation and over charging.

  • Peter

    says:

    Alan Pace is wrong re the coalition and local ownership of airports. It was a broke labor party who introduced local ownership. The first airport was sold in March 93. Others soon followed. When the coalition regained power in 1996 they continued with the program as it was past the point of no return in most cases.

  • John Bowers

    says:

    Seriously…more Canberra handouts for Victoria and NSW. Toowoomba was fined privately, Brisbane airport second railway private funding, Brisbane Airport train privately funded, Brisbane Cross River Rail privately funded…it never ceases does it!
    Almost forgot…billions into Badgery’s Creek and extension of the Sydney Metro.
    No wonder Qlanders get exasperated but to be regarded as ‘Parochial’ Is just a tad over the top perhaps?

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