UPDATE, 2pm: THE City of Greater Bendigo is disappointed to learn Bendigo hasn't been chosen as the second location of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy.
But strategy and growth director Bernie O'Sullivan maintains "the sky's the limit" for the airport, with "lots of opportunities coming".
"We get contacted regularly about people wanting to be involved there, to work there. We've got plans for a business park, [and] to keep growing direct flights," he said after Mackay was announced as the preferred location of the second Qantas academy.
Mr O'Sullivan suggested there might be other entities interested in establishing a pilot training school in Bendigo.
"Certainly the Qantas pilot academy would have been a great fish to land but there's lots of interest in training pilots," he said.
"We know it's a global worldwide challenge of having enough pilots in the system and any of the airlines just can't train them quick enough."
An estimated 790,000 more pilots will be needed worldwide in the next 20 years, according to Qantas. About a third of those pilots will be needed in the Asia Pacific region.
Mr O'Sullivan said there were certainly, globally, countries that were interested in setting up pilot training schools in Australia.
Asked whether any international companies had expressed interest in Bendigo, he said: "We're very happy with the level of interest we're seeing from different providers that both have Australian links and overseas links.
"We look at those on a case-by-case basis and they all stand or fall on their merits."
Mr O'Sullivan said regional locations were being considered because they had the facilities, the land, the clear skies and the uncongested airspace that many city airports didn't have.
"We're very happy with the interest we're seeing at Bendigo Airport to both over time grow passenger services, grow pilot training, but also grow a compatible business park in and around the airport," he said.
The first intake of students enrolled at RMIT'S flight training school in Bendigo start next week.
"Certainly the Qantas pilot academy was of a large scale. RMIT are starting off their pilot academy smaller scale but that will grow over time, too," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"We may get other interest going forward, as well."
He said the city was already seeing students that wanted to live in Bendigo to participate in the flight training school, as well as instructors, trainers and a flow-on of jobs that needed to be able to service the school.
"We hope in time maybe some of their business in other places gets transported to Bendigo because of our clear skies and wonderful liveability," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"I think that RMIT training school will only go from strength to strength to strength. It's having a positive start."
He did not believe missing out on the opportunity to host the second Qantas Group Pilot Academy would affect the city's bids for funding from state and federal governments to expand its airport - one of its priority projects.
"The opportunity to expand the Bendigo Airport terminal and the precinct was not reliant on the pilot academy," Mr O'Sullivan said.
That's a separate project really driven by the growth in passenger flights."
QantasLink has added two additional flights between Bendigo and Sydney since it launched the service in March.
"That's a really positive sign," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"The partnership we have with Qantas continues to grow and we think there are great opportunities for Bendigo Airport moving forward."
EARLIER: BENDIGO'S hopes to secure the second Qantas Group Pilot Academy have been dashed, with the Queensland city of Mackay today announced as the preferred location.
Qantas Group Pilot Academy executive manager Wes Nobelius said Mackay offered optimal flying conditions and "a sunny Queensland lifestyle", making it an ideal site for a pilot academy.
"To the remaining six shortlisted cities - we thank all of you for taking part. If we could have placed a Pilot Academy in every one of your cities, we would have," he said.
"We know these proposals took a great deal of time and effort, but it gave us insight into your community and plenty of ideas for where we can grow in the future."
Bendigo was one of nine regional cities shortlisted for a pilot academy.
Toowoomba was announced as the first academy location in September.
"Our initial focus is opening the first Pilot Academy site in Toowoomba and rapidly expanding the number of pilots there next year, before we progress our plans for Mackay," Mr Nobelius said.
The City of Greater Bendigo said when the first site was announced it had put forward a strong case for Bendigo to be considered, highlighting the city's lifestyle, weather and uncongested airspace.
More to come.
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