Ballina may have lost out on its bid to host the rescue helicopter service but at least the town has other news to celebrate … a $4 million boost for its airport.
North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and NSW Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced this morning that the airport was among ten projects to receive infrastructure upgrades under the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Franklin said more than $4 million had been secured to improve facilities at the airport to accommodate increased visitor numbers and stimulate the local regional economy for the years to come.
‘This funding will go towards the expansion of the airport terminal building including an internal baggage claim carousel and additional passenger amenities,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘In total, Ballina Airport has now received over $6 million in support from the NSW Government, having received over $2 million in round 1.
‘I am pleased to see the continued investment being made across the regions by the NSW Government and I will continue to work with local communities in the Ballina area to secure new opportunities for economic growth and job creation.’
NSW Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro said the Ballina Airport project is the first of a number of regional airports which will receive upgrades as part of the second round of funding under the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
‘In December last year we announced $35 million in funding for 17 regional airport infrastructure projects,’ Mr Barilaro said.
‘The NSW Government is committed to investing in infrastructure which will create jobs, drive economic growth and deliver the services that will unleash the economic potential of regional NSW.’
Airport Manager Neil Weatherson said the funding was fantastic news.
‘From an airport point of view this will make Ballina Airport,’ he said.
‘Our departure lounge has been a weak point for a long time. It has needed to be expanded and this will make it a world-class facility,’ he said.
Mr Weatherson said the funding would be used to expand the size of the departure lounge, triple the size of the cafe, with 250 new chairs, three retail shops and more toilets.
‘We will also relocate the passenger set down and pick up areas, and improve the shuttle pickup, making it a lot more user friendly,’ he said.
Mr Weatherson said the latest funding would bring the amount spent on the airport in the past six years to $38 million.
That figure includes the new fire station, an extension to the runway, and other infrastructure improvements.
‘We’ve already got a fantastic airport here in Ballina and this morning’s announcement will only make it better.’