Gunnedah Shire Council has awarded an $8 million tender for work to upgrade the shire’s airport tarmac to a standard that will allow commercial flights.
Mayor, Jamie Chaffey said like most projects throughout the country, construction costs had steeply escalated during recent industry turbulence.
“Original costs for this project had been estimated at $3.86 million,” Mayor Chaffey said.
“That estimate now sits at something closer to $8.35 million.
“We have been fortunate to be allocated funding under the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program and the NSW Resources for Regions Program, but it is no longer enough when the cost for the project has more than doubled.”
The Mayor said upgrading the airport tarmac was a critical project for Gunnedah Shire, not only to ensure its ongoing safety, but to allow commercial flights to operate from the airport.
“It is almost 20 years since we have had commercial flights operate from Gunnedah,” he said.
“Our Shire and our economy are growing, and our population has never been bigger. Commercial flights directly to and from Gunnedah will allow business expansion, faster emergency health care, greater tourism opportunities – the list of benefits goes on and on.
“We are already having conversations with interested airlines. But we cannot do this without an upgraded airport.
“This project has been on our priority list as a Shire since 2017 and has been included in our publicly available Delivery Program and Operational Plan since that time.”
Council resolved this month to award the tender to Airport Consulting Group subject to the additional $4,585,731 being made available.
Mayor Chaffey said Council was actively seeking state and Federal grant funding to meet the shortfall.
“This is a project that will deliver so much to Gunnedah Shire,” he said.
“We will do our utmost to secure the funding to make it happen and if that proves impossible, Council will need to meet the remainder. This project is too important to delay any longer.
“We look forward to the day when we can fly directly to and from Gunnedah.”