Mildura Airport has received a welcome shot in the arm via a funding package comprising three grants from Federal, State and Local Government sources totalling $1,885,000.
The grant money will ensure the facility’s ongoing viability in the wake of COVID restrictions, which saw regional aviation come to a virtual standstill last year.
The airport will receive $885,020 in funding for vital security operations as part of the Federal Government’s support for the aviation industry, as well as a $850,000 contribution from the State Government, and $150,000 being contributed by Mildura Rural City Council.
Mildura Airport chair Peter O’Donnell said that the situation required everybody to work together and to see the importance of the airport as a vital facility for the region.
“It’s not about politics, it’s about the town and what it needed, and we have been the beneficiary of all levels of government working closely together to get this wonderful outcome,” he said.
“We are now up to about 40 per cent level of flights and heading back to normal and Mildura is reemerging again, the Easter week-end was exciting and the airport has been busy.”
Mildura Mayor Jason Modica said that the funding was a shot in the arm for the airport’s operations.
“It is really important that we maintain this great facility,” he said. “Everything is closer when we have a well run, open airport, with lots of flights in and out of Mildura,” he said.
“Last year was such a uniquely difficult year and things weren’t good, and so to bring all of your political allies together and have them make this commitment to the airport, is a great sign and ensures that the need for us to be connected to all of our capitals in the tri-state region is maintained.
“The airport had done really well in managing their finances until COVID struck and things fell off the chart, and with extraordinary circumstances, you have extraordinary responses, and everybody puts their nose to the grindstone and a good result has come about.”
Member for Mallee Anne Webster said negotiations to achieve the funding had taken many months and she had been lobbying the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack on Mildura Airport’s behalf.
“There were months of lobbying for this which began last year,” Dr Webster said. “It wasn’t a quick process, but I am really thrilled with the outcome and really pleased that our local regional airport is being supported as it should be.
“Peter O’Donnell rang me last year and we spoke about the airport’s situation and I went to the DPM then and said to him that we needed to support our regional airport.
“This is the largest regional airport in Victoria and there’s no point in having planes in the air if we don’t have an airport for them to land at. Therefore it is imperative that we give some support to local facilities such as this.”
Airport CEO Trevor Willcock said he was delighted with the funding package.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time and it allows us to fill all of the operational holes that we have had since COVID hit us last year,” he said.
“The importance of Mildura as a regional airport and what it brings to the community and staying open and maintaining flights is vital and Government has recognised that with this funding.”