Airlines will soon be able to land larger aircraft at Merimbula airport thanks to runway extension plans given the green light by the Southern Regional Planning Panel last week.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick said the approval starts a series of major civil works at the airport aimed at increasing visitor numbers to the shire.
“Securing the services of two major airlines was a big win for the area, and with Southern Regional Planning Panel approval, we can begin to fully maximise the potential of this upgraded facility,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“While attracting an additional airline was a fantastic milestone, we are currently limited by the size of aircraft our runway can accommodate.
“This approval allows us to progress a 120-metre extension at each end of the runway, meaning QantasLink will be able to land Q400 aircraft at Merimbula airport.
“Expanding seating capacity will naturally open doors for greater visitor numbers and increased investment in the shire.
“Upon completion of the runway extension works we will also proceed with the resurfacing of the entire runway and aprons to ensure a more consistent and smoother surface for airlines to use.”
Cr Fitzpatrick said the Southern Regional Planning Panel were satisfied the proposal addressed potential impacts to the lake and surrounds through a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.
“This five-year study looking at potential impacts a development of this scale could have on local ecology, Indigenous heritage and the shellfish industry left no stone unturned,” he said.
“We thank the NSW Government for the $4.3 million investment through the Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure Program to fund the runway extension, and the Australian Government for allocating $4.5 million through the Regional Airports Program to fund the resurfacing works.”
Project Services Manager, Daniel Djikic said Council has been working closely with airport users to minimise interruptions during works.
“Airlines have been informed of works to commence at the runway’s southern end early in the new financial year, and we are confident there will be no interruption to passenger and freight services during this stage of works,” Mr Djikic said.
“General aviation flights will be affected, and we have already contacted the Merimbula-based general aviation users and businesses operating from the airport.
“Our next step is to invite tenders for the commencement of works. We have approval for the first stage and money in the bank thanks to federal and state government grants.”
Tenders for Package 1 works will be advertised through Vendor Panel.
For more information on the Merimbula airport masterplan, visit Council’s website.