The Coffs community is a step closer to benefiting from significant positive changes that the long-term lease of Coffs Harbour airport will bring, including a new phase of growth and greater economic benefit.
The stage we’re at currently is the binding bids stage and once provided, an evaluation will be carried out and a report brought back to the Councillors for their consideration early in 2020. As with all tender processes, we cannot release commercially sensitive information belonging to other parties, which is why we cannot go into too much detail at this stage.
However, a new way of managing the airport has been under investigation for several years based on extensive research and expert advice. Council is currently investigating the lease model because it has been successfully adopted by more than 24 capital city and regional airports across Australia.
One of the main benefits it would provide would be the introduction of new skills and operating experience to Coffs Harbour Airport to help grow visitor numbers and potentially fast track development of the enterprise park, as well as progress future international and freight opportunities.
I’d like to emphasise that the Airport Lease Model is for a long-term lease only. The community should be assured that Council will maintain ownership of this important community asset and will continue to have input through the master plan.
But it is also clear that change is needed if the airport is ever to reach its full potential. This is about realising the potential of the airport and how it can better benefit our community now and into the future.
I’d also like to reassure people that leasing the airport will not automatically drive up the costs of air travel locally. Any experienced operator who comes in will know that they won’t be successful if they strangle their market with high costs.
The long-term lease will deliver revenues that will enable council to fund important future community projects. However – just to be clear – the lease process is not being undertaken to fund current projects such as the Cultural and Civic Space.