$2.3 million slated for airport passenger upgrades

SECURE car parking, free WiFi, mobile charging points and work stations could be on the way for Orange Regional Airport passengers, subject to a funding bid of almost $2.3 million. 

Orange City Council has included $2,390,000 to be spent on several projects for the airport in the 2018-19 financial year.

Of the total, $2,280,000 has been earmarked for airport security and passenger enhancement, including a secure car park, CCTV coverage for the parking area, free WiFi, better furniture, work stations for business travellers and mobile charging points.

Fly Corporate spokesman Geoff Woodham welcomed the effort, saying while competitive airfares were the main drivers behind people choosing to fly, there was a great distance to cover between Orange and the airline’s Brisbane and Melbourne destinations. 

“Any improvement in comfort makes the experience much, much better,” he said.

“If they’re looking for a grant for that, that’s even better because it will happen a lot faster.”

Mr Woodham said the plans were expected of today’s airports and many others had already invested in the infrastructure. 

The grant was part of a government call for submissions to drive tourism. 

The other projects, which do not depend on grant funding, including $40,000 to resurface two taxiways connecting commercial hangars to the main runway as part of general maintenance. 

A further $70,000 has been set aside for light aircraft tiedowns – two 30-metre steel cables anchored into the grass, allowing visiting pilots to secure their aircraft. 

A $300,000 hardstand parking area is expected in 2020. 

Another $70,000 will be used to demolish an old council-owned hangar in poor repair. 

With JetGo entering voluntary administration on Friday following unpaid debts to Dubbo Regional Council, Mr Woodham believed there could be a silver lining for Orange and its Brisbane and Melbourne services.

“It could pick up passenger numbers to Orange,” he said.

“Previously, people were driving to Dubbo from Orange to get the service to Brisbane so it could be the same in reverse now.”