BIGGER planes will now be able to land at Tamworth airport after the finishing touches were put on a $2.35 million upgrade.
It’s a timely completion for the project, as the community calls for additional domestic services, particularly to Melbourne, have taken flight.
With the apron repaved and the addition of a larger parking bay, the airport can now accommodate Boeing 737-800 planes.
“That means if the marketplace changes, or if the carriers wish to run a bigger services, particularly at peak times, like country music or some of the holiday times, the airport has the capacity to host those larger aircraft,” Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray said.
The airport is coming off a record-breaking year, with close to 200,000 passengers travelling through Tamworth.
Cr Murray said it means the city has to start looking to the future, accommodating larger planes and looking for more destinations to be added.
The mayor said the upgrade was also a step towards the dream of international freight coming through Tamworth’s airport.
He said a lot of international freight is transported “under the floor” of 737 aircraft, but realising the dream is still out of the scope of council.
“To get genuine international freight capacity, we need to upgrade our runway and quite a lot of other significant infrastructure, which is way beyond the means of council or the community,” he said.
The apron upgrade was jointly-funded by council and the state government.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said “transport is a critical component in terms of regional growth”.
People will soon see the benefit of further state funding at the airport, with work to commence on the near-$4 million terminal upgrade before the end of 2017.
The mayor was very confident of seeing even more NSW government money in the near-future to get works under way on the intermodal frieght hub on Wallamore Rd.
Mr Anderson said the state government would be looking at stumping-up $8 million to upgrade the rail-line between Westdale and Wallamore Rd, near Goddard Ln, if funding is granted.
“We’re just waiting on the last of the detailed applications from Tamworth Regional Council to go into the fixing country rail program,” Mr Anderson said.
“What we need to do is continually look at how do we attract new business.
“We do that by investing in regional NSW because we provide the environment for the private sector to invest.”