Ballina mayor David Wright and North Coast Nationals MP Ben Franklin were at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport this morning to kick off new works that will extend the departure area, with a new café, bar and retail outlet as well as energy efficient design features.
The project, announced in last month’s state budget as part of the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, is expected to cost around $6 million.
The NSW Government will spend $4.5 million while the council is putting up a co-contribution of $1.5 million
Size will triple
‘In 12 months it will be fantastic, Cr Wright told Echonetdaily.
We’re tripling size of departure lounge – extending out the front – moving the undercover drop-off area and, in a separate project that council will fund, looking at covered car parking with solar panels.
‘Every year we’re spending a combination of federal, state and council money on what is now the third biggest airport in the state,’ he said.
Cr Wright added the upgrades were possible because ‘major airlines are committed to being part of it for the long term’.
Half a million passengers
Mr Franklin said the airport currently caters for ‘up to 520,000 passengers each year, and this number is continuing to grow’.
‘The airport is the key arrival and departure point for many tourists to our area, as well as an important air travel access point for our community.’
‘We want to ensure passengers can pass through this airport with easy and comfort and can have a memorable start and end to their holiday.’
‘These extra facilities are going to make our airport even better, and I look forward to contraction being complete in 2019,’ Mr Franklin said.
$6 million fed project
The terminal enhancements will complement the $6 million Airport Boulevard project, which attracted $3 million in federal funding last year and will open up an additional 30 hectares of adjacent industrial land.
But Cr Wright doesn’t see things stopping there.
‘In a couple of years we will look at doing the arrivals terminal as well,’ he said.
On departing a plane you have a place to go, a cab to catch, a timetable to catch up to, and people to whisk you away to a destination as you have been wasting hours on a plane drinking coffee.
Why is a cafe, bar and retail outlet in the departure area?