By ERWIN CHLANDA
The announcement by Qantas of it choosing Toowoomba for its pilot’s academy invites conclusions about the choice.
Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga are still under consideration for the second academy site, scheduled to be announced before Christmas.
Several reasons in a Qantas media release for giving Toowoomba the tick were easily topped by Alice Springs: Uncongested airspace, a high proportion of clear weather days and access to support infrastructure.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce is quoted: “Toowoomba will be an amazing place to learn to fly. It’s home to Australia’s newest airport and offers over 300 days of Queensland sunshine each year and an environment that is textbook for pilot training.”
But his statement also suggests that Qantas may have had in the back of its mind the long population stagnation of Alice Springs, and the current decline in population and drop in real estate values partially triggered by petty crime: “The [Toowoomba] region itself is a great place to live, work and study. We’ve already had many students express their interest in moving to Toowoomba for this pilot training,” Mr Joyce is quoted.
A spokeswoman for the airline says it doesn’t devolve the reasons for not choosing a location.
The release says construction of the academy’s new facilities at Wellcamp airport will start next month with the first students to commence training in mid-2019.
The cost of the new infrastructure is estimated at $35m. It is expected that building the facilities will create more than 100 direct jobs and around 300 indirect jobs in the local construction industry.
The academy site will create ongoing employment for up to 160 people in training and support roles, plus significant flow on opportunities for local businesses, says the release.
It does not quantify any financial support from the government of Queensland but its Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is quoted as saying that her government has a “commitment to attracting the industries that will create jobs and opportunity and keep creating them well into the future”.
Denis Wagner, director of the company that owns the airport, is quoted as saying: “This decision by the Qantas Group highlights that when the private sector, Australia’s national carrier, the Queensland State Government and our local Council work cohesively, we can achieve a long term economically sustainable future for our regional communities”.
Another reason quoted for the choice of Toowoomba is that it is only 130 kms from Brisbane where the airline’s fleet of four Dreamliner jets (pictured) is based.
By ERWIN CHLANDA