TAMWORTH is a step closer to landing the $20 million Qantas pilot academy, with representatives from the airline flying in on Thursday to see what the city has to offer.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray showed the group of nine Qantas delegates around the aviation precinct.
“They basically came here to run the ruler over Tamworth as a possibility for their new pilot training centre,” Cr Murray said.
While Qantas is touring each of the nine shortlisted cities, which includes the fellow NSW regional hubs of Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, Cr Murray is confident Tamworth is the pick of the bunch.
“While always acknowledging the level of competition, Tamworth does have a lot to offer,” Cr Murray said.
“And it’s quite evident in the fact that we’ve had pilots training here for the last 50 years.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said the academy would have a “strong on flow effect” for the local economy.
“From a business community perspective, it will generate more jobs for the region and more growth, which is really important,” Mr Segboer said.
Cr Murray said one of the biggest benefits to the city would be “almost intangible”.
“It’s that brand attachment,” he said.
“To have that Qantas brand operating an international-level of pilot training here will be really important to the city.
“Then there’s the direct economic impact from those significant number of jobs.
“All the activity to feed and house all those students and instructors, it will be a big new industry for the city.”
Despite the tour, Qantas was tight-lipped on the city’s prospects of securing the academy.
“Our team met with local government leaders and the Tamworth Airport team today to tour the facilities and assess the feasibility of our academy being set up here,” the academy’s executive manager Wes Nobelius said.
“It will be a competitive process as we visit all nine regional shortlisted cities to go through in detail what’s required to establish the academy, and ensure it is sustainable in the long term.”