TAMWORTH is still in the mix to land Qantas’ regional pilot academy as the carrier announces the new facility will be split across two locations.
The Qantas Group confirmed it would open its pilot academy across two cities in regional Australia to meet anticipated demand.
Tamworth was shortlisted as one of nine regional cities in the running to become home to the academy, including Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay, Toowoomba and Wagga Wagga.
The winning cities will be announced in a few weeks.
With plans to eventually train up to 500 pilots a year, Qantas says it will need to spread the academy across two cities to cater for the scheme.
“Adding up to 250 students plus instructors and support staff to any of these places needs the right infrastructure at airports, but also in the towns themselves,” Qantas boss Alan Joyce said.
In a further show of confidence in the city, Qantas also announced it would be extending its Tamworth lounge with more seating, Wi-Fi and refreshments on offer for eligible passengers.
“Tamworth is an important part of our regional network and the investment in a new lounge is part of our commitment to providing customers with a better travel experience,” Mr Joyce said.
This expansion was included in original plans to upgrade the airport’s terminal.
Tamworth airport manger Julie Stewart said the cafe end of the terminal upgrade will be complete by the end of September, while work on the departures lounges would be ongoing until December.
“It’s a little bit more complex project with some demolition work to be done,” Ms Stewart said.
“We’ll be extending the terminal to allow for an extra 30 per cent capacity, an extra departure gate, a new Qantas lounge.
“There’s a second lounge space, set aside initially for Virgin.”
The upgrade will also include a new function space which could host conferences and corporate events.
It could prove to be a stimulus for Tamworth tourism with events able to be hosted on site, at the airport.
Ms Stewart said Tamworth was “quietly confident” it could be named a winning city in the pilot academy race.
“Tamworth all the appropriate infrastructure the pilot academy would need, but we haven't had any indication we’re in the final two yet,” she said.
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