Another notch putting The Rock ahead of Alice


25108 Connellan airport OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, the operator of Ayers Rock Resort, has been approved for a $27.5m loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to upgrade runway facilities at the Connellan Airport.
A media release from NAIF says the loan will extend the runway’s useful life, taxiway and apron, and provide runway lighting supporting future night flights, along with contractor accommodation.
“It will provide new opportunities for Indigenous employment and businesses and complements existing loans including with ANZ and the Commonwealth Government,” NAIF CEO Laurie Walker says.
“The runway upgrade is forecast to generate economic benefits for the wider community of $370 million over 20 years and support for up to 320 full time equivalent jobs.
“Voyages aims to continue to increase the number of Indigenous employees, building on the current 40% Indigenous workforce. Voyages has 100 Indigenous Australians start at its training academy every year and recruits many more.
“The project has a target of sourcing 3% to 5% of goods from companies that are 50% or more Indigenous owned,” Ms Walker says.
“It will also support police and emergency services, which use it as a key operating facility, giving families continued access to specialist healthcare.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service can continue to operate via the airport, and the community won’t need to make the alternative 10-hour round trip to Alice Springs,” she said.
Voyages chairman Rick Allert says visitor numbers last year were over 360,000, including both domestic and international passengers, “and the numbers are growing each year”.
Google Earth image.
UPDATE 12noon
The Connellan airport currently has pilot-activated “low level lighting” for night landings an take-offs. The loan will be used (in part) to update cabling and transformers and to install LED lights.
UPDATE 2.10pm
NAIF has also “conditionally approved” a $150m loan to Northern Territory Airports Pty Ltd to fund infrastructure works including the construction of a cold storage and export hub at Darwin International Airport, upgrades at the Alice Springs Airport, solar energy farms and an off-site multi-user battery across the two airports’ sites.
UPDATE 4.35pm
A spokeswoman for NAIF says a Conditional Approval “provides a level of confidence to a proponent as to the terms on which NAIF may finance its project. For instance, it can be provided where a proponent has met most but not all of the requirements for the board to make a formal investment decision under the NAIF Investment Mandate, including satisfaction of mandatory criteria. The nature of conditions will vary from project to project.”


  1. With the tourism infrastructure focused on Darwin and Yulara these last five years, Alice Springs in the next 10 years is becoming like it was in the 70s and 80s, a public service for Aboriginal services and public servants.
    Gone is the growth of this town of new private businesses starting up.
    The government is hell bent on being the good guy and providing money, that they need to borrow, to buy votes for the long term co-operations that are going up here in Alice and Yulara.
    Making the government look good, spending money on Aboriginal people, but the money is not going to the people who need it.

  2. Sadly, The Alice seems to be paying the price for not planning its future and the lack of effective leadership at the local council level.
    We desperately need a change at the top, someone who will fight for our town with more than just hope and a prayer.
    Above all else, we need to stop expecting someone else to be looking after our interests.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more, Domenico! Damien Ryan needs to stand down.
    I have lived in Alice for 25 years and ever since he became Mayor the town has steadily declined.
    He should be the squeaky wheel for Alice Springs, ensuring the NT Government do not forget about every other town but Darwin.
    Sadly he lacks guts, innovation and any kind of foresight. It’s time he let soemone else drag Alice out of the gutter.

  4. And while we are shaking our heads in horror at yet another backwards step for Territory tourism, selling out locals and local investment in favour of FIFO tourists who suck the very foundations from our industry, Wwe receive a further announcement that our treasurer is off to Canberra crying help!
    We are broke!
    We are long past the debt levels that would have put a public company into administration.
    The failure to understand, to grasp the economic realities of our region so clearly demonstrated in the farcical almost suicidal funding of the means of our own demise through further developing the Yulara airport.
    With decisions like these is it any bloody wonder that the Territory finds itself cap in hand in front of the Feds crying help?
    The term administration is one with which the Territory is about to become very familiar, I’m afraid.
    All of it all the disastrous decisions, the sheer blind sightedness, the total lack of knowledge of the Territory and its business, yes, a total lack of vision, points to the real underlying issue for the Territory.
    That has been and remains, a very, very poor level of knowledge and talent amongst the ranks of our elected representatives in governments, both State and Federal, of both political persuasions.
    They either don’t know who we are or what we need, or they are not being listened to!
    Either way they have failed us, the levels of debt we are facing are simply astounding, horrifying! Maybe at this stage in the Territories development “administration” by a pool of expertise is what we need and probably deserve.

  5. I have been a tourist several times and always look forward to visiting Alice.
    It’s a beaut place and tourists do like to visit.
    Everywhere has its problems but Alice lifts my spirits whilst staying and visiting there.
    No, I don’t live there but would like to say I and many others love Alice.

  6. Domenico and Whitney appear to be suffering from a lack of political relevance.
    Damien Ryan is not in control of the economic fortunes of Yulara or Darwin and has little relevance even to the economy of this town, other than providing those services that the council has responsibility for.
    The issue here relates to NT and Federal Government.
    The Mayor needs to keep focus on the role of council and not on matters that he has no power to control.
    I think if more people actually focused on their own jobs, we would all be better for it.

  7. Melissa, have you been living with your head firmly planted in the sand?
    Port Augusta’s late Mayor Joy Baluch was able to drag their town out of the gutter when social issues threatened to take over.
    This wasn’t in her job description either, but it didn’t stop her making a lasting difference for her town.
    I believe Damien Ryan was even sent to Pt Augusta at our cost to discuss their successful approaches to minimizing antisocial behaviour, on which he has remained stagnant.
    In terms of improving tourism for Alice Springs Damien could have had a loud voice for Alice, not once have I heard him talk about the detrimental impact direct flights to Yulara from capital citites have had on the Alice Springs community.
    Hey, he even had some leverage with the Anzac oval negotiations with the NT Government.
    Why is council suddenly only able to maintain the gardens and not voice real imapcts Government decisions have on the town he is supposed to care for?
    Perhaps you are politically short sighted and your feeling of content with Damien’s lack of voice for Alice Springs only normalizes his stagnation as our representative.

  8. Yes, Melissa, the old “Roads, Rates and Rubbish” makes for a very useful fall-back position for a do-nothing Mayor.
    I suggest that you read up on the Alice Springs Town Council’s own strategic plan to see that our council does indeed have responsibilities that include environmental, social and cultural issues.
    If we, as a town, do not take on the responsibility of planning for our sustainable future, who will?

  9. Does anyone know if Qantas has paid the Alice Springs airport the money that it allegedly owed them?
    I know Perth Airport is taking Qantas to court over unpaid fees. I’m sure Alice Springs airport could use the money that’s owed to them if it hasn’t been paid yet.


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