$5m airport upgrade: Melbourne direct next

Airport upgrade: Regional Development Minister John Barilaro arriving in Port Macquarie on Friday where he announced a $5 million upgrade for the local airport. Pic: Matt McLennanPort Macquarie-Hastings Council is taking a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to establishing much-anticipated direct flights to Melbourne.

This follows a $5 million upgrade announcement tothe airport facility on Friday.

State government minister for regional development John Barilaro and the state member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams joined council mayor Peter Besseling to unveil the multi-million dollar plans.

The funding will see an overall increase in the footprint of the building, construction of an internal baggage claim carousel and a more convenient check-in area.

Importantly, it will include a dedicated arrival area and upgraded security facilities to provide easier access for travellers.

The overall plans are designed to provide a smoother flow of passengers and visitors around the facility.

Mr Besseling said the upgrade was ‘part of the push’ for direct flights to Melbourne, which he accepted was a favoured option for many local travellers.

“While that –attracting direct flights to Melbourne –is a commercial decision for the individual airline operators, council’s attitude is that we want to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to accommodate the increased visitor numbers,” he said.

“We need to be prepared and council is pushing hard (to achieve that).This investment …will continue togenerate interest in Port Macquarie.”

The mayor said the funding announcement was further confirmation of Port Macquarie’s recognition of city status in the recent North Coast Region Plan.

“It reflects the growth in our area,” he added.

Mr Barilaro and Mrs Williams said the upgrade will accommodate increased visitor numbers and confirmed the government’s push to invest in the development of regional airports.

“It will also stimulate the local and regional economy for years to come,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW government will continue to invest in regional infrastructure to unlock new economic growth and job creation opportunities.

“Airports are a key entry point for regional communities,helping channel business and tourism spending and assisting health and emergency services.”

Mrs Williams saidshe was pleased to see the continued investment being made across the regions by the NSW government to secure new opportunities for economic growth and job creation

“This funding is in addition to the $1.8 million investment in Lord Howe Island as part of round 1 of this investment,” she said.

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