$4.3m airport upgrade jobs boost

A $4.3 million facelift of Warrnambool Airport could create more than 20 jobs and pump up to $21 million into the region if the state government funds the final stage of the project. 

Warrnambool City Council says it has a strong business case for the expansion of a new airport business park and expects to know “within a month” whether the government will fund the last $1.6 million. 

The state government has already pitched $2 million for the project but Canberra hasn’t answered the call for money. 

More than six businesses, including energy giant Origin, say they are ready to expand their services if more hangars and facilities become available. 

In addition a further 19 full-time jobs would be created elsewhere through a spin-off effect, according to council research. 

Warrnambool City Council chief executive Bruce Anson said the plans would create an employment windfall. 

“There’s an opportunity to establish a logistics centre. 

“We’ve also had indications from an aircraft maintenance firm who are interested in coming to Warrnambool,” Mr Anson said. 

Tourism operators are also understood to be awaiting news on the upgrade. 

“Hopefully we’re successful with our grant,” Mr Anson said. 

‘‘It could be a catalyst for other businesses to expand.” 

About 150,000 aircraft fly in and out of the airport each year averaging 40 flight movements a day. 

The airport is restricted to 16 hangars. 

A spokesman for Origin confirmed the airport played a strong part in accessing the company’s unmanned offshore assets but did not confirm what plans it had for the airport. 

“Continued access to appropriate air support facilities at Warrnambool plays a vital role in supporting Origin’s operational, maintenance and exploration activities in the Otway Basin and energy supplies into southern Australia,” a spokesman said. 

Meanwhile, a longer term plan to rebuild and strengthen the runway will cost $6.5 million. 

Larger aircraft coming to Warrnambool must apply for a special permit and are required to lower air pressure in their tyres to land on the runway. 

If council can build an extra taxiway it will improve the chances of attracting a regional airline to the city such as Sharp Airlines to target corporate high flyers. 

Mr Anson said council had held discussions with the airline previously, but the company was lured elsewhere due to opportunities in the mining sector. 

“Sharp were interested but they secured a fair bit of fly-in fly-out work that changed their investment decision,” Mr Anson said. 

“I would like to see the return of passenger services.

“We are a regional city with a lot of national businesses. Midfield Meats is an international business ... we’ve got people like Saputo and Murray Goulburn flying in and government departments.” 

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