The potential for an injection of new investment into Coffs Harbour Airport to promote further growth of the local economy has taken another step forward after Council voted to move to the binding bids stage to select an experienced operator for a long-term lease.
At tonight’s council meeting, Councillors considered an evaluation report on non-binding bids received for the proposed airport lease – which were submitted as part of an expressions of interest process commenced earlier in the year – and a majority agreed to move forward.
Council’s Director Business Services, Andrew Beswick, said the lease model – which has successfully been adopted by more than 24 capital city and regional airports across Australia – would foster positive change and a new phase of growth for Coffs Harbour Airport and the entire community.
“A long-term lease arrangement will bring new skills and operating experience to Coffs Harbour Airport that will help grow visitor numbers and potentially fast track development of the enterprise park and progress international and freight opportunities,” he said.
With the airport currently managed by a contractor with day-to-day operations undertaken through Council, Mr Beswick said leasing the airport would not only provide greater opportunities for the airport but would also remove council from any regulatory or operational risks.
“The successful lessor will give us access to current – and proven – airport management expertise, bringing new investment to make the airport a greater success. It will also potentially see freight and international opportunities progress quicker than what would have been possible under council management,” he said.
“This positive step forward is further enhanced by the ongoing development of the Airport Enterprise Park, which will attract new industries and jobs to Coffs Harbour.”
Due to commercial sensitivities, at this stage, details of the interested bidders must remain confidential. However, a report on the outcome of the binding bids stage will be brought back to council for consideration once completed.
“As part of our due diligence, council will ensure that the binding bids will be assessed on a set of criteria including the benefits that it brings to the community now and well into the future,” added Mr Beswick.
“We have assessed all options over many years on how we can best realise the benefit of this valuable asset for the entire Coffs Harbour Community including thorough reviews of the results of the models adopted by airports across the country and the leasing model is by far the most attractive for all stakeholders.”