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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Merimbula Airport runway extension flying ahead

Merimbula Airport will return to normal operation on Monday 20 December, with phase one of the runway extension works nearing completion.

Stage one involves the creation of the southern runway extension platform, with the outer rock wall completed in early November and works on the inner platform well underway.

Bega Valley Shire Council Project Services Manager, Daniel Djikic said despite the unusually high rainfall for this time of year stage one has been progressing well with only limited impacts on commercial operators.

“During stage one works, our commercial operators have been able to maintain their normal flight schedules by operating on a slightly shortened runway,” Mr Djikic said.

“Emergency services access has also continued as normal, however private aircraft operators and owners have had restricted access to the runway and we thank them for their patience.

“I am very pleased we will be returning to normal runway use for all airport users on 20 December, in time for a busy summer.”

The second phase of the project, which involves the strengthening resealing of the runway, is scheduled to commence on 31 January 2022 and will require a full runway closure for six weeks.

“During the planning phase we considered various windows for the closure,” Mr Djikic said.

“The expert advice was that we needed to seal the runway during the hottest part of the year to ensure the best engineering result and longevity of the runway.

“A start date that falls outside of the Christmas period and after the NSW school holidays will minimise the impact on tourism and businesses and ensure the airlines and our local economy can still capitalise on summer travel.

“We understand this closure will impact both passenger services and General Aviation and have a knock-on effect for tourism and business. However, to complete these works in the shortest possible timeframe and within the necessary quality and cost parameters, this is the best long-term option for our airport.

“The overall aim of this project is to provide a runway suitable for larger aircraft and increased passenger numbers. With two passenger airlines servicing the airport, we are making the strategic step of developing the airport for the future, bringing better services and increased investment to the shire.”

Work on the new general aviation precinct will also pick up in the run up to Christmas and continue into the New Year. These works are being coordinated with the runway renewal and strengthening works.

The projects are funded through two grants from the Commonwealth Government, two grants from the NSW Government and some Council funds. They are scheduled for completion in May 2022.

More information about the project is available on Council’s website.

Above: A portion of the southern platform extension closest to the runway was temporarily sealed on Wednesday, on time for returning the runway to its normal length from 20 December, ahead of the busy holiday period.


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