Mid­night flights cur­few

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Taelor Pelusey

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Stephen Daw­son’s rul­ing to al­low un­re­stricted fly­ing un­til mid­night at the Bus­sel­ton-Mar­garet River Air­port will help ne­go­ti­a­tions to se­cure in­ter­state flights, ac­cord­ing to project man­ager the City of Bus­sel­ton.

The min­is­ter handed down a rul­ing on Mon­day over­rul­ing the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency’s de­ci­sion that re­stricted un­lim­ited flights to 6am and 11pm, with a limit of five weekly flights out­side of that time.

While only mark­ing a one­hour dif­fer­ence, City of Bus- sel­ton Mayor Grant Hen­ley said the City’s suc­cess­ful ap­peal to the min­is­ter for an ex­ten­sion could help ne­go­ti­a­tions with air­lines.

“Feed­back from air­lines in­di­cated that ini­tially, ser­vic- es may need to op­er­ate dur­ing the newly ap­proved hours,” he said.

“The de­ter­mi­na­tion is cru­cial for the City to at­tract (reg­u­lar pub­lic trans­port) ser­vices to and from the East Coast.”

Al­most $60 mil­lion has been spent to ex­pand the air­port to date, with the aim of at­tract­ing di­rect flights from the east coast.

But with no car­rier yet to sign on, the State Gov­ern­ment has put a freeze on the fi­nal piece of fund­ing — $13 mil­lion for the new ter­mi­nal — and says it will move ahead when a deal is inked with an air­line, or if Qan­tas agrees to build a much-hyped sec­ond pi­lot train­ing academy. The first academy was an­nounced for Toowoomba in Septem­ber and a de­ci­sion on the sec­ond is yet to be made, but the City has high hopes of Bus­sel­ton be­ing se­lected.

City com­mu­nity and com­mer­cial ser­vices di­rec­tor Naomi Searle said dis­cus­sions with air­lines were also pro­gress­ing. “To­wards the end of 2018 the City re­viewed the route busi­ness cases and rep­re­sented them to the Vir­gin Group and Jet­star,” she said.

“The an­nounce­ment of the min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion will as­sist in these dis­cus­sions, as the op­por­tu­nity to fly dur­ing night time hours is now achiev­able.”

To­wards the end of 2018 the City re­viewed the route busi­ness cases and re-pre­sented them to the Vir­gin Group and Jet­star.

Naomi Searle

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