Flying low: Orange Airport's income takes a hammering

BUDGET GRIEF: Airport advisory committee chair and deputy mayor Chris Gryllis and Orange City Council technical services director Chris Devitt inspect Orange Airport's partially-completed terminal. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI                       0516dcairport3

BUDGET GRIEF: Airport advisory committee chair and deputy mayor Chris Gryllis and Orange City Council technical services director Chris Devitt inspect Orange Airport's partially-completed terminal. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 0516dcairport3

A DROP in construction projects has resulted in fewer people flying into Orange Airport and results are already affecting Orange City Council’s bottom line.

Councillors passed the January to March quarterly review at last Tuesday’s meeting, including a $150,000 drop in passenger tax income and a further $50,000 drop in landing fees.

Airport advisory committee chair and deputy mayor Chris Gryllis said the completion of the Orange Health Service and wound-back construction at Cadia Valley Operations meant fewer people required air transport.

Cr Gryllis said those projects had contributed to 60,000 people flying into the airport a year and the figure had now reached closer to 50,000.

“We’ve gone back to where we were prior to [those projects],” he said.

“It’s overoptimistic of us to expect the increases to remain as they have for the past two years and we didn’t know how long that was going to last.

“It will cause a bit of grief with the budget figures, but that’s the reality.”

When asked whether more work had to be done to attract tourists to Orange, Cr Gryllis said the airport was mostly used for business and medical travel, with only 0.1 per cent of tourists arriving by plane. 

“Nobody will pay that sort of money when they still have to hire a car,” he said.

Toilet facilities at the airport valued at $12,000 were listed as unfavourable to the council’s bottom line, however Cr Gryllis said they were essential.

“It was listed as unfavourable because it wasn’t originally part of the budget, but it was very necessary because quite a lot of people on private planes arrive when no one’s around,” he said.

“There’s nothing worse than looking for a toilet, needing something as soon as possible, and having to use someone’s office.”

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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