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Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney loom as the most likely commercial passenger routes from the newly-developed Bendigo Airport.
And ongoing discussions with commercial carriers were “positive”, according to mayor Margaret O’Rourke, speaking at the official launch of the airport on Friday.
“I think the appetite is more for Adelaide and Sydney, potentially Brisbane, but it’s all about slots that are available at major airports,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“I thought we were pitching ourselves a bit too high above our weight (in discussions with airlines), but everyone wants to talk to us.”
The city has met with three regional carriers recently and is planning to have discussions with two more, Cr O’Rourke said.
“What’s important to remember is Bendigo is a net importer of people. Bendigo brings 10 per cent more people into the city than leave on a daily basis. Very few regional cities do that,” Cr O’Rourke said.
The new runway can cater for 70-person passenger planes, or 30 tonnes of cargo.
Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said the project was a significant upgrade to the city’s aviation industry.
“This stage two completion represents our growth as a city,” she said.
“We know it’s going to provide local business and producers quicker access to international trade markets.”
Bendigo was a key financial and professional services sector and that sector needed to connect with other markets in larger capital cities, Ms Allan said.
The airport development, which includes a 1600-metre runway, and associated taxiways, helped secure and expand local emergency services for the region, Ms Allan said.
The $15 million project has been funded by the City of Greater Bendigo ($5m), along with state ($4.7m) and federal ($5m) government.
The next stage of development is a business precinct at the airport, but that is currently unfunded and still potentially several years away.
The project, which employed 119 local people, builds on previous work delivered in 2014, including the development of 25 new aviation hangar sites, three new taxiways, improved road access and better drains.