Six groups have expressed interest to the council about taking over the airport, according to the mayor.
Steve Toms told the Examiner that the council had publicised the facility to business nationally and there had been “expressions of interest” from several groups.
It is not clear if one of the six is Qantas but Mr Toms said that the airline still hadn’t specified what it wants from a regional airport for it to be chosen for the Qantas Pilot Academy and the $20 million of investment it would bring.
But even if Qantas isn’t interested, others are.
Competition for the Qantas venture is stiff, with many regional airports across Australia putting their hands up. Just within this immediate region, Moree, Armidale and Tamworth are definitely interested.
Tamworth’s case is that BAE Systems has used its airport as a military pilot training school so the facilities are there, and Qantas would only have to change the signs on the doors.
Glen Innes’ case is that all the legal work like planning permission has already been done for the Chinese plan which collapsed recently.
Mayor Steve Toms recognised that the process was complicated and not instant. He said: “Qantas is still preparing the requirements”.
He said that who will get the project to train 100 pilots, rising to 500, will depend on Qantas’ demands.
Two crucial factors are the weather and how established the regional airport needs to be.
Does Qantas want a busier airport like Tamworth? Mayor Toms argues that Glen Innes would be better because it has the essential facilities like a long runway but not so much traffic that pilot flights would have to work around passenger ones. And if pilots needed training at busier airports, Armidale, Tamworth and Inverell were near.