The WA government has insisted the construction of a new terminal at Busselton Margaret River Airport won’t be brought forward despite pleas from the city’s mayor.
The ABC reported the $10 million of funding set aside for the project will instead be redirected to a $30 million entertainment hub and the expansion won’t begin until after a three-year trial ends for flights to Melbourne.
Peter Kalbfell from the Busselton Airport Action Group said, “We’ve got a domestic tourism market in Australia, people are looking for new destinations to go, the Margaret River destination is perfect.
“It’s very frustrating, we see so many tourists coming from Sydney and Brisbane and elsewhere and they want to travel directly to the Margaret River region. The state needs to unlock the safe and get that money out and spend it.”
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Swipe ↔️ your way through this landing ??↔️ Here at Busselton we have many passionate local aviation photographers who capture moments like this. Thanks to ? @aussiepilot05spotting for sharing this one of a @virginaustralia A320 landing on runway 21. Not sure which is our favourite. We love the wingtip vortices on the second and the pavement reflections.
In March, Jetstar began direct flights between Melbourne and Busselton, in the south-west of Western Australia. It marked the first flights from the east coast to the famous wine region.
Previously, interstate tourists from outside the state would have to fly to Perth and then drive three hours south.
While initially, the plan was to extend the airport after the three-year period, campaigners hoped it could be fast-tracked to capitalise on a hoped-for boom in domestic tourism with international borders closed.
Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said, “We actually expect to see over the first three years of operation that Jetstar will bring around 60,000 people to the region and inject around $40 million into the economy.”
The news has received a mixed reaction from local politicians, with South West Nationals MP Terry Redman arguing the delay would compromise the facility and its “tin shed” terminal; while Liberal MP Steve Thomas argued the move was sensible.
Busselton Margaret River Airport opened on 15 March 1997, and is both owned and operated by the City of Busselton.