ALL going according to plan, the newly-resurfaced runway at Orange Regional Airport will soon be welcoming the wheels of jet-setters and would-be commercial pilots.
On Tuesday the $1.53 million upgrade was heralded as a means to attract tourists to the city, as well as strengthening the facility’s case to house a highly sought-after $20 million Qantas pilot academy.
The works included resurfacing of the main runway, reconstruction of one of five taxiways, widening of the intersection at the main runway, and construction of an all-weather intersection off the second runway.
Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said the projected economic gains for the city’s tourism and business sectors would exceed the $1.53 million spent on the works.
“We expect the project to add $1.56 million in value to the regional economy and create dozens of new local jobs,” he said.
A council spokesperson said this projection took in the airport-based businesses, airlines, passenger repeat visits and local tourism stakeholders.
A bigger win could come in the form of the Qantas academy, for which Orange City Council lodged its official bid before Friday’s deadline.
The successful applicant will house up to 500 pilots, who would commence their training from next year.
Mayor Reg Kidd said that while the resurfacing project was underway well before Qantas announced its need for a new location, the project, as well as other recent upgrades to the airport, were mentioned when the council put in its submission last week.
“It’s going to be a very competitive process, but Orange has a lot to offer,” he said.
Member for Orange Philip Donato said the airport’s upgrade had already encouraged airlines to run more flights to and from the city.