Ballina Shire Council are looking to upgrade the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and sent out a request to all candidates of Page and Richmond to support their application for $10m in government funding.
‘We wrote to every candidate in both seats but only one independent and Justine Elliot responded,’ said Mayor of Ballina Shire David Wright.
Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot and her team met with Mr Wright to discuss the application which she told Mr Wright it was one of the best they had ever seen.
The application seeks to implement a $28-30m upgrade to the the airport including widening the runway to allow an increase of size and number of planes.
‘Council has estimated the cost of widening the existing 30 metre runway to 45 metres to cater for the jet airlines eventually upgrading from Airbus A320s (180 passengers) and Boeing 737-800s (160 passengers) to A321s (220 passengers) at approximately $30m,’ said Terry Christmas from the Ballina Gateway Airport.
‘This includes runway strengthening works and expansion of the existing apron and strengthen the runway to take more weight.’
The limit for the grant that the council are applying for is $10m ‘and we got as much as we could get,’ if Labor get in said Mr Wright.
‘We could potentially borrow another $10m as well as apply for other state and federal grants.’
Neither of the Nationals Party candidates have come forward to support the expansion so far said Mr Wright but he believes that ‘if the Liberals get in it is still likely they would get the grant but there have been no promises from them’.
‘We have 35 hectares of land near the airport where we are putting in Boulevard Road where the INEXS museum and the film studio. We are also looking at the food hub that was going to go into Bangalow for here. The long term plan is to be able to fly produce and goods in and out from here.’
Mr Wright also said as the Gold Coast Airport expands its international capacity he expects more domestic flights to use the Ballina Byron Airport and predicts that in the future they will have direct flight to Adelaide and Hobart.
‘It is step by step as we try to build on the assets that are owned by the people of the shire. I want to make sure there are good quality jobs here,’ he said.