Chinese investors are waiting in the wings
CHINESE billionaire Raymond Wang has never made any secret of his desire to see the Whitsunday Coast Airport become an international hub.
In 2014 Mr Wang’s Whitsunday branch of the China Australia Entrepreneurs Association Inc missed out on a bid for one of Queensland’s few regional casino licences, awarded to areas with international access instead.
Since then Mr Wang has been patiently waiting in the wings, with his second chance at investing in international air access between Asia and the Whitsundays now potentially just a whisper away. But he is not alone. Fullshare, the Chineseowned company behind Whisper Bay and Laguna Quays has also expressed an interest in any future partnerships and there are other Australian-based investors keen for a look-in.
Last week Whitsunday Regional Council announced its intention to seek support from the Queensland Government for the growth and development of its long-planned Whitsunday Coast Airport International Export Hub.
Mayor Jennifer Whitney said the next step would be an Expression of Interest process for a majority councilowned joint venture, or “public/private partnership”, to develop the International Export Hub and the council’s aviation assets throughout the region.
“The intent of the EOI process is to formalise current approaches from airport corporations, institutional investors, internationally based investors (and) locally based investors,” she said.
Recognising the importance of the airport as a community asset, Cr Whitney promised community consultation would occur before any decisions were made on the matter.
“(And) the most important message I can give to the community is that Council will retain the majority ownership of all assets; that will not change,” she said.
Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited chairman Jim Elder confirmed both the CAEAI and Fullshare had approached WMDL to express their interest in the venture.
Council’s CEO Scott Waters said the “market sounding process” would consider all options.
“We need to get the best partner on board and then our region will go ahead in a way we probably haven’t seen before,” he said.
HOT TOPIC: Expressions of Interest could soon be called for to develop the Whitsunday Coast Airport International Export Hub. INSET: CAEAI president Raymond Wang has always been interested in establishing international air access.