The possibility of leasing the running of Coffs Harbour Regional Airport to a company experienced in the commercial aviation industry has moved a step forward following Council’s approval for work to progress towards taking a formal Expression of Interest to the open market.
“Council has been investigating the options for the future management of the airport for some time and after careful consideration of the available opportunities with industry experts, Council has opted to further progress a possible long-term lease of the airport to a third-party investor/operator as it will provide the most benefit,” said Andrew Beswick, Council’s Director Business Services.
“The airport lease model is a very popular governance model for airports and has been adopted at over 24 capital city and regional airports across Australia. The key attractions are gaining access to the necessary expertise, the ability to transfer the capital expenditure for upgrades and expansion to the lessee, to remove the operational and regulatory risks of running an airport from the Council and the lease revenue Council will receive.”
In addition, the lessee would be expected to invest in and continue to develop the airport and encourage regional business development. There is also the potential for a lessee to invest significantly in the planned Enterprise Park development adjoining the airport. Historically this has been the approach by airport lessees at other airports.
For example, the costs of any possible future development of the airport into an international operation, which are estimated currently at $30m-$50m, would be borne by the lessee, not Coffs Harbour City Council.
Following the agreement of Councillors at their last Council Meeting, staff will now move towards the next stages of due diligence and preparation of an expression of interest to formally test the market for an airport lease for Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.
The outcome of the expression of interest will be reported to Council for consideration.
“This is one step on a staged process with regard to the management of the airport,” added Mr Beswick. “Taking things carefully like this will give Council the opportunity to withdraw from the process, if early indications aren’t promising.”