Pilot academy for Toowoomba: why did Alice miss out?


2584 Dreamliner 2By 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.
2584 Dreamliner 1The 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.


  1. I don’t blame Qantas, just look at the daily crime stories of Alice. Alice is slowly becoming a run down ghost town.

  2. Alice Springs will never be in the race for a pilot training academy. If the people behind the submission had done their research they would have discovered that the owners of Alice Springs Airport are basically at war with Qantas over landing fees and airport charges.
    Whilst such disputes are in place Alice will be placed last on the list by Qantas. Unfortunately the people of Alice are the losers. Two huge corporations locking horns over costs with no resolution in sight is disastrous for Alice.
    If the NT Government was truly serious about doing something for Alice it would have matched of bettered the Toowoomba offer. Unfortunately there are not many sharp tools in the NT Government with the knowhow to make such an offer.

  3. Mmmm. So nothing to do with the reported $50m incentive offered to attract them to this site.
    If you want business of this kind you have to buy it/attract it.
    Do the sums, work out what it’s worth to your economy over years and make an offer in keeping.
    Trouble with having a petty bureaucratic government driven by envy as opposed to entrepreneurial outlook is that you will always end up with exactly what envy provides … nothing!

  4. One can only hope they are following the lettering in the name Qantas when announcing where the academies are being located.
    Queensland for the first and NT for the second.
    Let’s hope.

  5. Seems Qantas already owes Alice Springs Airport $1.6m in overdue charges, according to the ABC.
    So with Qantas already making a public announcement that Alice Springs and Darwin Airports are the most expensive in the country, how can Qantas even consider Alice as an ideal training base?
    NT Airports have a lot to answer for, too. Like playing a game with the hopes of Alice Springs residents and businesses knowing full well that they have serious issues with Qantas on a day to day basis.
    [ED – We have invited the Alice Springs airport manager to respond.]

  6. Why would you want to open something of this scale in Alice Springs? No offence but the place is an absolute dive, full of crime and literally nothing to do.


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