The Australian Airports Association (AAA) has backed calls for more funding to ensure regional airports can meet increased government security requirements and ongoing costs.
According to AAA Policy Director, Simon Bourke, media reports that Whyalla Council may experience a $1 million funding shortfall to meet new security requirements highlight the significant challenges facing regional airports.
Mr Burke said that while the industry is committed to ensuring security requirements are met, the high cost of compliance will put a strain on already struggling regional airports, most of which are owned by local councils.
“Regional airports nationally face a $25 million shortfall to upgrade terminals and infrastructure so they can meet the needs of the government’s new security requirements,” Mr Bourke said.
“This is a significant burden for smaller airports that simply do not have the economies of scale to offset these costs.
“With 60 per cent of regional airports already facing persistent budget deficits, it is essential government and industry work together to recognise the real impact of these changes.
“The AAA urges the Federal Government to provide additional funding to meet the full cost of implementing the new requirements and ensure a safe, secure and sustainable future for our regional airports and the communities they serve.”
The Federal Government allocated $50.1 million for regional airport security upgrades in the 2018-19 budget to meet the costs of new equipment.
The funds do not cover costs associated with infrastructure and terminal improvements to make room for new equipment and ensure smooth passenger traffic flows within terminals.
There is also no funding for ongoing costs associated with operating and maintaining newly installed equipment.
Regional airports already face a $170 million aeronautical infrastructure deficit over the next decade, excluding the impact of additional security costs.
The AAA renewed its calls for sustainable regional airport funding in November.