Council seeks airport funding partnership

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While work is under way to strengthen a section of the pavement at the Warrnambool Airport, Council is seeking investment from the Victorian Government to secure the long-term prosperity of the facility, and others like it across regional Victoria.

At its March meeting, Council voted unanimously to submit a motion to the upcoming Municipal Association of Victoria meeting that calls on the Victorian Government to establish a funding program for improving infrastructure at airports in regional Victoria.

Warrnambool Mayor Ben Blain said that he hoped to partner with higher levels of government to ensure the airport continued to provide a service to a wide variety of stakeholders.

“Right now, we’re strengthening about 2800 square metres of the apron to help it better handle the size of modern aircraft, and that work is being funded by Council,” he said.

“When you have big aircraft like the Ambulance Victoria helicopter or some of the larger chartered planes, this new apron will be able to manage their weight a lot better.

“While we would love to see a passenger service return and it really is an important service for a city like Warrnambool, the Warrnambool Airport still provides a vital service, and a really diverse one at that.

“The Ambulance Victoria helicopter averages an urgent flight every day, with Ambulance Victoria and the Royal Flying Doctor Service using fixed wing flights twice a day on average.

“The airport is also an important base in the event of an emergency. Fire bombing aircraft can be filled with water in three minutes, and extensive water supplies can also be made available for firefighting tankers.

“As well as emergency services, the airport is used by other agencies such as the Victorian Government to monitor whales, plus a wide range of businesses, chartered flights and training providers.

“Regional airports are crucial pieces of infrastructure for the entire state, and that’s why we have decided to submit this motion that would call for the Victorian Government to set money aside each year to improve them.

“The airport is a Council asset, but the benefits are enjoyed by a really wide range of groups, and we want to work with the Victorian Government to maximise these benefits as much as possible.”

Work on the airport apron is expected to be completed in April.