Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has moved to reassure ‘everyone associated with Lismore airport’ that no decision had been made about its possible sale or lease.
Cr Dowell confirmed that an outside party interested in buying the airport, which is owned by the Lismore Council, had approached the council two months ago.
‘There were some meetings internally and councillors were informed. The next stage was a confidential report and we decided to call for expressions of interest, which is the normal process with a large sale or lease,’ she said.
‘But I want to make it clear that the EOI process does not bind council.’
She said any EOI package would make it clear that the council had a long-term arrangement with regional airline REX, and also other airport users such as the Northern Rivers Aero Club.
Meanwhile, Cr Dowell dismissed reports that an offer of around $20 million had been made for the airport by a freight company in Western Australia.
‘There has been a figure bandied about but no-one here knows where that came from.
‘If we did proceed to a sale or lease then a proper valuation would have to be got at some stage,’ she said.
Cr Dowell also made it clear that while the EOI was a bit of a ‘fishing expedition’, any call for tenders would follow a more selective tendering process in which the interested parties would have to comply with conditions set out by the council.
‘It’s definitely an asset and yes, some parts are more challenging than others, more so since the global financial downturn, and with some flights not being well patronised, and we also have the whole general aviation side … the whole airport precinct is complex,’ she said.