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Owners and operators of remote airfields have until August 31 to apply for Federal Government funding towards airports upgrades.
Canberra has opened a fresh round of applications for its remote airstrip upgrade program, which offers funding for improvements to airfields in isolated communities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss released the guidelines for the applications on Wednesday.
“For many remote communities air services are an essential service to provide mail, supplies, transport and medical care – things that city-people may take for granted,” Truss said in a statement.
The 2015/16 budget allocated $33.7 million to be spent over the next four financial years towards grants to regional airports for safety and access upgrades.
Under the most recent funding round, the government approved 39 projects and allocated $9 million over the next two years covering work such as taxiway and runway repaving, new lighting, fencing upgrades and drainage improvements.
The cost of individual projects ranged from $15,000 to install new lighting and electrical components at Aurukun in North Queensland to $1.7 million for the reconstruction and resheeting of aircraft pavements at Ernabella in South Australia.
“I am looking forward to seeing work begin on approved projects across the country getting underway as soon as possible to deliver a stronger network of remote airstrip infrastructure,” Truss said.
The full list of approved projects in the previous round of applications can be found on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.
Australian Airports Association (AAA) chief executive Caroline Wilkie has welcomed the ongoing support of the corporate sector over the past 12 months.
The association, which represents about 260 airports around the country from the major international gateways to smaller rural airstrips, said on Wednesday it ended 2014/15 with 130 corporate members.
The AAA said corporate membership had grown 83 per cent over the past four years.
“Our corporate members are active participants in our industry working groups and state divisions,” Wilkie said in a statement.
“A strong corporate membership base provides our members with invaluable access to worldwide airport experience, technical capabilities and industry knowledge.”
The AAA national conference will be held in Hobart on October 12-16 and Wilkie said she was expecting a strong turnout from corporate exhibitors at the event.
“The exhibition area at recent AAA national conferences has been sold out and a highlight for conference participants, confirming that our airport operators and their business partners have a lot to talk about,” Wilkie said.
Gold Coast Airport plans to start construction of new aircraft stands and aerobridges in early 2016 in order to meet the growth in passenger traffic expected in the years ahead.
Stage one of the project involves upgrading the southern end of the airport, including a terminal development, building three new Code E aircraft parking stands (for the likes of Boeing 777s, 787s and Airbus A330s and A350s) and two aerobridges.
Construction is expected to start in early 2016 and be completed by the end of 2017, which will be in time for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The event is expected to bring about 126,000 visitors, athletes, officials, and media to the city.
Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer David Collins said the redevelopment, which also included refurbishing the existing terminal space to boost checkin, arrivals and passenger processing areas, would ensure the airport is able to cope with the expected growth in passenger traffic.
“Recent investigations have found the capacity of aircraft parking stands is currently exceeded at peak times, and if no action is taken to provide additional aircraft parking by 2018 access to the airport would need to be restricted,” Collins said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This could significantly impact the airport’s ability to service future domestic and international passenger demand.”
The Project LIFT (Lets Invest For Tomorrow) consultation paper showed Gold Coast’s current apron had capacity for 11 aircraft stands comprising three Code E and eight Code C (for Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s) aircraft. This was two short of forecast demand for 13 stands in 2015.
Moreover, the lack of available space was particularly felt during the morning peak periods, when the bulk of international flights from Asia arrive at the airport.
“By 2018, it is forecast that the apron capacity will be exceeded by two stands and by 2021, the apron capacity will be exceeded by four stands,” the paper said.
“If action is not taken to further develop aviation facilities at the airport by 2018, it will significantly limit the airport’s ability to service the future domestic and international passenger demand and address the current capacity issues.”
Queensland Airports Ltd, the owner and operator of Gold Coast Airport, is investing $200 million towards the redevelopment, which is expected to create 230 full-time jobs during stage one of construction and 180 full-time workers for ongoing operations when complete.
“This significant investment demonstrates our confidence in the Gold Coast and its ongoing role as a major contributor to the Queensland and New South Wales economies,” QAL managing director Dennis Chant said.
“Project LIFT will allow us to meet forecast demand for the next eight years while also creating additional employment, generating further economic activities, and providing capacity for future growth.”
The full details proposed development can be found on the airport’s website. There consultation period for public comments lasts for 80 business days and closes on September 30.
Separately, Gold Coast Airport is also currently seeking feedback on the proposed installation of an instrument landing system (ILS). The consultation period for the ILS closes on July 13.
Tourism bodies have expressed support for the ILS.
There are only a few weeks left for aspiring pilots and engineers to apply for the Regional Aviation Association of Australia’s (RAAA) 2015 scholarships.
Applications for the four scholarships on offer in 2015 are due by July 31.
The scholarships are the Ansett Aviation Training Pilot Scholarship, the Hawker Pacific/Australian Avionics Aircraft Maintenance (Avionics) Engineers Scholarship, Jeppesen Aircraft Maintenance (Avionics) Engineers Scholarship and Jeppesen Pilot Scholarship.
The winners will be presented with their awards at the RAAA national convention to be held in the NSW Hunter Valley on October 21-23.
Further details can be found on the RAAA website.