OUR SAY: Let’s lobby hard to house Qantas’s pilot training program

THERE will be no shortage of Australian towns and cities putting their hand up to be home to a new pilot training academy proposed by Qantas chief Alan Joyce. 

Mr Joyce, the airline’s chief executive, whetted the appetite of cities across Australia last week when he announced plans to spend up to $20 million on the project in the 2019 financial year.

Mr Joyce is also seeking additional financial support from government and will no doubt be encouraging a bidding war between the states hopeful of securing the new jobs.

“We are looking to each of the states and territories, not only on what incentive packages they typically provide to other companies and other industries doing similar things that would be available to the Qantas group, but what facilities they may have already because we will obviously need a functional regional airport,” Mr Joyce said last week.

“The investment initially for us will be up to $20 million and that will grow over time as we grow the school.”

It’s almost too good to be true for a city like Orange, so what can we bring to the table?

First and foremost, we can offer Qantas access to a burgeoning regional city that’s just under an hour by air from the country’s major airport.

Orange has also earned a reputation as a forward-thinking city, and with a new bunch of councillors there’s no reason not to try new things.

But the proposal has also come at a good time for our city.

We are a hub for the Rural Fire Service, with its headquatres on Forest Road, and already the airport is heavily used by business travellers and holiday makers.

We also have regular flights in and out of Orange travelling to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

We have recently-upgraded infrastructure at the airport, and there are further upgrades planned.

The development of a pilot academy appears to have some synergies between work that is currently going on here and where Qantas wants to go in the future.

Such a project would bring with it some great engineering minds and would add to the Smart City status we crave.

In short, Orange should vigorously pursue this opportunity.

Our city has grown on the back of a “can-do” development strategy and we’ve not been afraid to dream big.

Sometimes, as we know, dreams do come true.


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