$6.9 million airport upgrade to begin this month
WORK on the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport expansion and upgrade was set to commence this month after Woollam Constructions was awarded the construction contract at the last Ballina Shire Council meeting.
The council's Commercial Services Manager, Paul Tsikleas, said this was the first stage of a two-stage project worth $6.9 million.
Stage 2 will involve an upgrade of the airport carpark and set down pick up areas.
The project was being jointly funded by the NSW Government's Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure Program, contributing $4.5 million, with the balance funded by Ballina Shire Council.
Mr Tsikleas added that the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport has experienced significant growth in passenger numbers over the past eight years requiring a larger and more efficient terminal building.
Passenger numbers for the Airport have grown from 270,000 in 2010 to 530,000 in 2018.
The latest passenger number figures reflect an annual increase of 7per cent over the past year and place Ballina Byron Gateway Airport in the top 10 of the 50 major regional airports throughout Australia, including Cairns and Hobart airports.
Ballina Byron Gateway Airport was now a major regional airport that generated significant economic benefits and opportunities for businesses and the Far North Coast.
Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin welcomed the news, saying the NSW Government was proud to support projects like this one which boost regional tourism infrastructure.
"The Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure Program increases the competitiveness and attractiveness of regional NSW by ensuring ongoing and convenient access for visitors," Mr Franklin said.
"The Ballina-Byron area already attracts large numbers of tourists who spend their money in local towns and villages, and this upgrade will ensure the airport has the capacity to cater for more tourist growth, further supporting our local businesses."
Work on the airport was expected to be completed in April 2019, weather permitting.