BUSINESSES continue to push for funding to upgrade Bendigo Airport.
The project, which will allow larger planes to land at the site, requires $5 million from the federal government.
The City of Greater Bendigo and the state government have each committed $5 million.
Keech Castings chief executive Herbert Hermens said there had been some “mildly encouraging” soundings from the local major party candidates.
“But at the same time I think we as a community need to make sure it’s understood this is a high priority item for Bendigo,” he said.
“As a consequence the political aspirants need to take that into account when thinking about how best they can address the needs of Bendigo going forward.
“While I understand many regions look for airports, Bendigo has a very solid case.”
Mr Hermens said central Victorian businesses were no longer shielded from outside market forces, but competed internationally.
“Given we’re one of the largest regional cities it seems ludicrous we don’t have an airport,” he said.
MyJet Aviation director Chris Richard said the current airport required constant maintenance due to charter, flying school, and emergency services use.
“It hasn’t held back our business to date but it limits where we can take our business in the future,” he said. “An upgrade would give us confidence to expand the business.
“The expansion of the runway will be a key component to the business development of Bendigo.”
Council city futures director Stan Liacos said the airport was letting the city down.
“It’s is absolutely vital that a city the scale and nature of Bendigo needs substantially upgraded aviation facilities,” he said.
“Our inadequate airport is seriously letting us down and is inhibiting job growth in many sectors. You can’t be a credible regional city without a credible regional airport.”
Councillor James Williams, who heads an airport advisory group, called for support from Bendigo major party candidates Greg Bickley and Lisa Chesters in June.
“A runway at 1600 metres is what we’re working towards,” he said.
“We’d like to be able start next year. We’ve been waiting for a long time and people have been frustrated with the progress, but now you can see things happening.”