Status queue for aerodrome

By Jared Loughnan

The expression of Interest process for the Yarrawonga Aerodrome has failed to attract an offer and will remain in council hands.

Moira Shire Council sought expressions of interest (EOI) last year to lease or buy the publicly owned areas of the local aerodrome. 

General Manager Corporate Simon Rennie said during this most recent process, council conducted discussions and received feedback from various interested groups and individuals. 

“All these discussions were extremely positive but the EOI process did not produce offers that council could progress,” Mr Rennie said. 

“The current EOI is now complete and at present, the aerodrome will continue to remain under council ownership. 

“Council would like to thank those who participated, and feedback received will help development and business opportunities. 

“Next steps will be to enhance its use and drive other revenue streams to fund operational costs at the aerodrome.”

Mr Rennie stated in August before the EOI’s October 25 deadline that it was an opportunity for someone to buy or lease a regional aerodrome that services the popular tourism and lifestyle destination, with diverse agriculture and export industries and that is already home to aviation businesses and users. 

“Over the years we have been presented with a wide range of proposals to improve or develop the aerodrome,” he said.

“Some of the proposals sound brilliant but with so many projects competing for council funding and limited in-house aviation expertise, we believe private ownership or lease could provide a better option to get these ideas off the ground. 

“The EOI process allows anyone to put a proposal together for consideration by council.”

Mr Rennie stated that EOI process would also inform the consideration of a number of related but separate issues including the future status of the aerodrome under CASA regulations, options for generating revenue to offset the aerodrome’s operating costs and the public benefit the aerodrome provides.

The EOI included only the council owned areas which comprise a terminal building and toilets, runway, taxiway, plane parking area and other fixed infrastructure above and below ground. 

These occupy approximately 112 hectares of freehold council land that is zoned to protect its use for aviation related uses. 

A key consideration in the EOI process was to maintain the access and rights defined in existing agreements with users and hangar owners and ensure continued access to the aerodrome for general aviation and emergency services. 

The privately-owned areas and hangars were not included, and existing rights and agreements would have transferred if there was a successful applicant.

More than 10 businesses employing around 40 people currently operate from the aerodrome.

Mr Rennie also confirmed that council had looked at the $45 million first round grant funding as part of Federal Government’s Regional Airports Program. 

“The federal government funding is a welcome boost to regional aviation and isolated communities, but the target is aviation safety and connectivity for regional communities and didn’t appear to be focussed on small aerodromes catering for general aviation,” he said.