Airport plans up in the air
Shire councillor Peter Lane has questioned a shared budget commitment to marketing the Busselton Airport because of ongoing “rumours” about interstate flights.
Debating the most recent Capes Regional Organisation of Councils meeting with the City of Busselton, Cr Lane said more information was needed because of a $25,000 funding contribution by the Shire of AugustaMargaret River.
Stressing he had no fixed position, Cr Lane said full disclosure of the City’s efforts to secure flights needed to dispel rumours efforts were “exhausted”.
The airport’s $13 million terminal is on hold pending further development of flights as well.
“I’ve heard various good and various bad rumours,” he said last week.
“We’re about to hand over a substantial amount for marketing of the airport.”
Cr Lane asked at what point the City would access the Shire funds, allocated for destination marketing, if no airline carrier was recruited.
“I’ve heard various carriers have rejected it, but though they are awaiting a carrier, it seems they might have exhausted that list,” he said.
City of Busselton chief executive Mike Archer said delays to the terminal were not “ideal”, with a funding agreement valid until December.
“We have advised stakeholders that we remain optimistic about securing an airline to the facility,” he said.
“Efforts will not be exhausted, even once we have formally secured an airline, (because) negotiations will remain ongoing to attract other providers to the airport and expand services to the South West from both domestic and international locations.”
Mr Archer said the City did not hold the Shire’s $25,000 pledge.
“The City will ask those who have made a commitment to the airport marketing fund to forward their first contribution once an airline has been secured,” he said.
At last week’s meeting, other councillors argued against amending the Shire’s policy to insist funds were deleted or blocked until a carrier was secured.
Shire president Pam Townshend said she would be “embarrassed” to go back to CapeRoc recanting the offer. “It would quite seriously damage our relationship with the City,” she said.
Council veterans Ian Earl and Mike Smart said the commitment was vital to the region, with Cr Smart noting the Augusta-Margaret River Shire did well out of the deal because Busselton shouldered the bulk of the costs.
Cr Earl said any about-face would be “a real slap in the face”.
Cr Lane welcomed news the Shire would seek more information.