Plans for the new works at Tamworth airport are expected to go on public display within a week or two, showing airport users just what they’re going to get for what they will be paying for.
In its current operational plan, put out for public scrutiny months ago, Tamworth Regional Council detailed the next stage of works at the airport, the total $4.2 million in works planned there, and the suggestion that parking fees would be introduced.
At this stage though, it is only short-term parkers who want to be closest to the terminal to park and then fly who will pay.
They will get their first hour free, pay $2.50 an hour to a maximum of $15 a day and a maximum of $65 a week.
Longer-term parkers who put their cars further away from the terminal will still have free parking, although that might change in a couple of years.
But the fees will not be introduced until the upgrade works are completed – meaning we don’t pay for it until we get it.
As part of the upgrade, there’s $900,000 to be spent improving the car parking.
The works will see short-term and long- term parking spaces increased, a covered walkway built from the rear car park near the QantasLink administration building to the terminal, a new terminal roadside, and a new set- down and pick-up zone.
The plans were first flagged a couple of years ago but TRC is moving on them now because the urgency has increased as the car parking becomes a premium battle with more long-term parkers, particularly from fly-in, fly-out mining resources workers and allied consultants and industry executives, who are using the parking more.
Acting mayor Russell Webb yesterday admitted TRC would probably cop some flak over the introduction of car parking fees, but he has defended the move as necessary and valid.
Both he and TRC business manager John Sommerlad argue that long-term parkers, some of them for days and even weeks, are occupying spaces near the terminal, clogging the area and making life more difficult for short-term users.
Mr Sommerlad said yesterday the fees would support the capital costs of keeping the airport one of the big infrastructure assets of the city.
He said other regional airports, such as Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Coffs Harbour and Ballina, all had paid parking.
“The proposal includes adding car parks. We will have 20 additional parks in the short-term parking area and another 70 in the long-term parking area and we will expand that long-term parking with another additional 140 car parks,” Mr Sommerlad said.
“The initial plan is to remove that old generator building and extend the car park there.”
The initial entry to the main park will be off Basil Brown Dr, opposite the QantasLink administration building, and it will have boom gates.
The road at the front of the terminal building will be changed. The set-down and pick-up zones will be moved along from the front of the terminal towards the big hangars and old control tower building.
Mr Sommerlad said he expected the plans to go on public exhibition for community comment within a week or so and that TRC hoped to start the first construction works before Christmas.
The fees will only come into operation when the works are done and airport users are using the new, upgraded facilities.