Time for Govt to support airport
While it was disappointing to hear Tourism Minister Paul Papalia call the Busselton airport plan “a pup”, he did confirm industry concerns about the politicisation of the tourism portfolio and highlight the selective nature of the McGowan Government’s enthusiasm for regional aviation development.
The McGowan Government has done all it can to undermine the Busselton Airport project, despite continued support from Tourism WA, industry and the Federal Government.
The project was removed from the two-year tourism strategy, funds were cut and construction delayed by over six months as part of an “optimisational review”, Tourism WA was withdrawn as airline engagement facilitator and funding for the terminal was withdrawn until an airline committed to the route.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information application show more than one airline had expressed an interest in commencing operations to launch flights from the peak summer period 2017, subject to runway capacity.
Expansion of the airport to accommodate interstate passenger flights and international freight was identified by the former government as a key transformational project for the South West.
Once completed, the airport would allow for direct flights to destinations such as Sydney, Melbourne, Denpasar and Singapore. The City of Busselton and the greater Margaret River region is the most popular international destination in WA outside of Perth.
Tourism in the region has grown more than 90 per cent since 2008.
It’s time for the McGowan Government to stop playing politics and support the South West community’s bid to see this airport succeed.