Labor has pledged $60 million to upgrade Hobart Airport in order to service long-haul aircraft, supporting international widebody freight and passenger flights, should they clinch the coming election.
The announcement, made on Tuesday by shadow minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Catherine King, would see the airport’s runways and facilities both upgraded, to support growing tourism and export markets in Tasmania.
“Infrastructure investments like this unlock massive potential,” Minister King said.
“Our investments announced today will have lasting benefits for the state, driving the economy forward and creating thousands of secure local jobs.”
The new funding would support the next phase of Hobart Airport’s upgrades, after phase one, which lengthened the runway by 5oo metres, was completed in 2017. Phase one was completed with the assistance of a $38 million grant from the federal government.
Phase two, which will strengthen the newly lengthened runway to allow for sustained use by heavier, widebody aircraft, is expected to cost $80 million in total.
Together, the upgrades will see Hobart Airport upgraded to a Code E class airport, meaning it will soon be capable of regularly handling Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Airbus A330s, and A350-100s.
According to Hobart Airport CEO Norris Carter, Tasmania is currently the only state in the country that does not have a Code E runway and noted that the announcement marks a huge step for direct overseas connections with Tasmania.
“While the runway has been long enough for widebody aircraft, it has not been strong enough for sustained regular services, but this undertaking will make this a thing of the past,” he said.
“It will significantly assist the development of a Code E standard runway and be of significant benefit to all Tasmania.”
Meanwhile, Member for Franklin and shadow minister for agriculture Julie Collins said the new upgrades to Hobart Airport will present new opportunities for local businesses to export their goods overseas.
“This project is one of the most important in our state, it will take our goods to the world and bring more tourists to our beautiful region,” she said.
“It is only Labor that is going to make the investments that matter for the future of our state.”
According to KPMG modelling, the project could also generate around $122 million in economic activity per year going forward.