Ballina and Lismore airports set themselves up for the future
BALLINA-Byron Gateway and Lismore airports have both won million-plus dollar grants from the NSW Government for key infrastructure upgrades.
The funding comes at a welcome time for both airports which have recently outlined distinct visions for their future growth over the next decade.
Lismore was successful in an application for $1.5 million for improved lighting and a reseal of its runway, while Ballina won $2.2 million to fund extra surfacing of its jet parking area.
The lighting at Lismore will allow planes to land and take off in almost all fog conditions, while Ballina’s strengthened parking ‘apron’ will act like a 24-7 carpark for large jets.
The funding came courtesy of Regional Development Minister John Barilaro and the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
Lismore MP Thomas George announced the Lismore grant yesterday, saying the funding would help the airport move towards its goal of becoming a business commuter hub for the region with a daily business-friendly flight to Sydney.
“Lismore’s the business capital, it’s the health capital, and it’s also the industry capital in the Northern Rivers area and it’s vital that we have a (flight) service connecting Lismore to and from Sydney, and it’s vital for that service to be maintained and improved,” Mr George said.
Lismore has a daily Sydney return flight but it doesn’t depart Lismore at an ideal morning time, however Mr George said “very proactive” negotiations were in play to change that.
Lismore City Council general manager Gary Murphy said the funding was also win for regional tourism in line with the airport’s vision to become a general aviation hub featuring recreational flying, skydiving, and helicopter services.
Over at Ballina, the $2.2 million grant will fund the much-needed extra surfacing on two jet parking bays and a taxi way off the main runway.
Ballina-Byron Gateway airport manager Neil Weatherson said the upgrade was a critical step in providing more services to the steadily growing airport so more planes could use the facilities.
Ballina has also applied for a further $5 million to triple the size of its terminal and add new parking and drop-off areas.
While it hasn’t been green lit yet, Mr Weatherson said he was still in negotiations over that application and was hopeful it might come to fruition next year.