THE NSW government is willing to commit up to $5 million in infrastructure upgrades, should Qantas choose Tamworth or another NSW city for its pilot academy.
The airline has shortlisted nine regional cities, including Tamworth, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, for the $20 million facility.
Tamworth Regional Council general manager Paul Bennett said the city had already submitted an extremely strong bid, but the added state government support would hopefully give it an edge over it’s interstate competitors.
“The state government has come out and said they’ll put $5 million behind any one of the NSW cities if Qantas selected them, to help further enhance whatever offering they had,” Mr Bennett said.
“It’s important the state government said they weren’t going to offer that money before hand, as that would have increased competitiveness amongst those NSW councils.
QantasLink CEO John Gissing, who learnt to fly in Tamworth, wasn’t giving much away when pressed on the academy.
“There’s people getting in my ear, but it’s an independent process and that’s the way it ought to be,” he said.
“My roots do go back a long way here in Tamworth and in regional Australia – I was born and bred in Wagga Wagga, which was also shortlisted.
“Tamworth ticks lots of boxes and so do the other eight airports listed.”
Mr Gissing did reveal he has spoken about the project with Tamworth mayor Col Murray and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson.
“Tamworth is a wonderful place, we’ve had a long-term relationship here with both the state and local government,” he said.
Onsite visits to each of the shortlisted cities will take place over the next several weeks and Qantas is hopeful of making a decision in the third quarter of this year.