22/06/2018 - 14:45

Busselton shortlisted for Qantas academy

22/06/2018 - 14:45

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Busselton has been shortlisted with nine other regional cities nationwide as the potential home for the new Qantas pilot academy, weeks after the environmental watchdog recommended conditional approval for the operations of a $70 million upgrade at the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.

Busselton is among nine regional cities vying for the academy.

Busselton has been shortlisted with nine other regional cities nationwide as the potential home for the new Qantas pilot academy, weeks after the environmental watchdog recommended conditional approval for the operations of a $70 million upgrade at the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.

The airline said more than 60 cities around Australia applied to host a training facility it will establish in response to a global need for 640,000 new pilots over the next 20 years.

Qantas said it would now meet with representatives of all nine cities over the next few weeks and settle on a site by the third quarter of the current year.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the shortlisting was a vote of confidence in Busselton.

"It recognises not only the great blue skies but also the aviation infrastructure and the lifestyle on offer in the region,” she said.

"We will work with the City of Busselton along with the City of Bunbury and the Shire of Manjimup to give us the best opportunity to win the academy for WA."

Qantas pilot academy boss Wes Nobelius said wider industry demand - and support from state and territory governments - was so strong that a second academy could be required.

"We think there could be enough demand from the broader industry for us to train up to 500 pilots a year," he said.

"To do that we're likely to need two separate academies because of the practical realities of trying to do that much training in a single location."

More than 14,000 aspiring pilots have registered their interest in the academy in the four months since it was announced by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Criteria for potential locations included having uncongested airspace, a certain number of clear weather days per year, and infrastructure to support and accommodate up to 100 students in the first year of operation.

Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga are the NSW cities on the list, with Queensland the next best represented through Mackay and Toowoomba.

Alice Springs, Bendigo and Launceston are the other venues, along with Busselton.

The announcement comes after the City of Busselton recently received conditional approval from the Environmental Protection Authority for expanded operations as part of the $70 million upgrade of the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.

The EPA has recommended a maximum of five flights per week between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

The city had originally sought 24-hour flight operations, but had revised its proposal to five flights per week between 12am and 6am.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson will make the final decision on the proposal.

Separately, the state government early this year delayed funding the $13 million terminal building at the airport until a deal had been signed with a major airline to become a regular user.

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