THE city’s leaders have vowed to “leave no stone unturned” in Tamworth’s bid for the new Qantas pilot academy, which would inject millions of dollars into the local economy.
Council and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson have begun formulating a battle plan to convince the state government’s that Tamworth is the “only real choice” for the $20-million facility.
Mr Anderson said the NSW government wants to throw its support behind one city, in the form of infrastructure funding for any upgrades Qantas may require.
“The state government wants one city, if we can rise to the top and be that one, the state government will back us in anything we might need for our bid,” he said.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said council was “totally committed” to winning the project, which would benefit the community “for many, many generations into the future”.
“Potentially we’re going from a business with the capacity to train 120 pilots a year, to one that can train up to 800 pilots,” Cr Murray said.
“There are all the associated economic benefits that come with that – all the things that the trainees will spend their dollars on like accommodation, restaurants, pubs and clubs.
“Then there is the money that comes from supporting a very large facility like that – food supply, catering, jobs for cleaners, cooks and trade workers.”
Qantas has declared the school will go to a regional area somewhere in the country. The National Party is yet to throw its support behind any single city.
Mr Anderson said the pilot academy was so sought after “every National member worth his salt will be having a crack at this”.
“From the Victoria state border, all the way to the Queensland border, and along the eastern seaboard, National Party members will be putting in a bid for this – and that’s just in NSW,” he said.
Council has already been sussing out the competition.
“Congested airspace compromises a lot of the places closer to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – they’re going to get knocked out straight away,” Cr Murray said.
“We think that Cairns is potentially one of our major competitors, but they have issues with weather during the monsoon season.”
Qantas wants to start training pilots in 2019. Council’s general manager Paul Bennett said Tamworth’s long list of credentials put it as one of the state's front runners.
“We’ve got dual runways, a control tower, an instrument landing system, a training school, hangars and big blue skies,” Mr Bennett said.