EXECUTIVES from the Qantas Pilot Group Academy visited Bendigo on Thursday to hold talks with the council about a potential new pilot training school at Bendigo Airport.
Council staff described the talks as “productive” and they remained confident that Bendigo would be one of the regional cities chosen to host the academy.
Bendigo was shortlisted with eight other regional cities – and was the only one in Victoria – after the applicants were whittled down from more than 60.
City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said they showed Bendigo in the best possible light, including the city’s liveability and the airport facilities.
“It was helpful for the Qantas representatives to experience Bendigo Airport for themselves, to see the runway, apron and other infrastructure such as the new lighting and navigational aids and terminal building,” he said.
“They were also able to get a sense of the scale of the area surrounding the airport; it is essentially a greenfield site, so it was clear that there is plenty of room to accommodate pilot training and other facilities on site.
“As part of the meeting we took them on a tour of the Bendigo CBD, showing them Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo Art Gallery and the new Bendigo Hospital, all of which help demonstrate the liveability of our community.
“The impression we got was that the Qantas representatives were very impressed by what Bendigo has to offer. They commented on the cleanliness and presentation of the city, they understood our gold rush history and heritage values but were also excited by our optimism and vision for the future.”
Qantas Pilot Academy executives will also visit the other regional cities as part of the process.
There is potential for multiple academies to be established.
Criteria include runway length, a minimum of 300 days per year suitable for flying, uncongested airspace and infrastructure to accommodate up to 100 students in the first year of operation.
A Qantas survey of 14,000 aspiring pilots found the “vast majority” would be open to moving to any of the nine shortlisted regional cities.
A final decision is expected before September, and the academies will be launched in 2019.