Government pledges $100 million to regional airport Updates

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A file picture of an RFDS aircraft taking off from the unpaved runway. (RFDS)

The federal government has pledged $100 million in funding for updates at regional airports.

The capital will be available from July 1 2019, together with information on how to apply to be printed later in 2019, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said on Sunday.

“ By boosting regional airport investment by up to $100 million, we have been ensuring regional individuals and their communities receive the services and infrastructure they deserve for business, leisure, wellness and education needs, ” McCormack said within a statement.

“ We need more people — particularly families and small businesses — proceeding into remaining from the regions, and better connectivity through airports is a vital part of that strategy.

“ We will work with regional communities to ascertain what airport functions will provide most benefit. ”

Australian Airports Association (AAA) chief executive Caroline Wilkie said the funding would help encourage a sustainable regional aviation community for years to come.

“ We welcome this commitment to keeping our regions strong and ensuring communities could last to rely on their airports to get in touch to loved ones and access essential services and trade, ” Wilkie said within a statement.

The AAA’ s Regional Airport Infrastructure Study, printed in 2016, found regional airports faced a significant funding shortfall in the years ahead to keep up existing facilities and upgrade their airfields to cope with the expected growth in the industry.

The analysis, conducted by ACIL Allen Consulting, estimated regional airports with over 500, 000 passengers moves annually spent $185 million in 2014/15 to keep up and enhance operations.

However, expenditures for regional airports were anticipated to increase by 38 percentage over the next decade, putting even more pressure on already stretched budgets, with 61 percent of the nation’ s regional airports operating budget deficits in 2014/15.

Further, some 40 percent of regional airports expected to have persistent budget deficits over another ten years.

Wilkie said the national government’ s $100 million assurance would begin to address the expected funding shortfall and “ assist this crucial infrastructure to keep servicing communities into the future”.

&ldquothis is going to keep regional airports safe and compliant, and conserve a little from risk of closure, ” Wilkie explained.

The AAA, together with the Australian Local Government Association (AGLA), Australian Logistics Council, Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) and Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) established a “ Safeguard Regional Airports ” effort in late 2017 to lobby for an increase in funds for regional airports.

Particularly, the effort required the national government’ s Regional Aviation Access Programme (RAAP) to be extended, in addition to the institution of a new program to expand the number of regional and distant airstrips entitled to government assistance.

Currently, RAAP features funding for updates to remote aerodromes (the Remote Access Upgrade Program, or RAU), inspection and related services at aerodromes in remote indigenous communities (Remote Aerodrome Inspections, or RAI), and subsidised flights into distant communities (the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme, or even RASS).

The 2018/19 national budget handed down in May 2018 allocated $28. 9 million over the next four fiscal years to keep the Remote Airstrip Upgrade program, which supplies grants to regional airports for security and accessibility updates.

The funding was for a further three rounds of the program included $4. 3 million in 2018/19, $9 million in 2019/20, $9. 9 million in 2021/22, the budget newspapers said.

The national government is scheduled to generate 2019/20 national budget at 1930 on Tuesday, April 2 2019.

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