Coffs Airport lease handover delayed by Covid-19
THE Coffs Harbour Airport lease process is still moving forward despite being slowed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Coffs Harbour City Council has confirmed.
Councillors had voted in November to advance the lease process to the binding bids stage, which was due to close in February.
At the time it was slated that the management of the airport would be officially handed over to a private company by the end of March.
When asked for an update, a council spokesperson confirmed the process has been slowed and a report will go to the council in "due course."
The council has been working with independent adviser KPMG Australia to prepare the long-term lease of the airport to a private operator, for a length of time that remains confidential to the public.
Cr Paul Amos however previously hinted to The Advocate it was a "very long time" that would "impact on future generations."
The council first endorsed the possibility of leasing the airport in December 2018 as long-term manager Dennis Martin had announced his intention to retire.
Mr Martin had held the position of airport manager for more than 10 years under a contract with the council.
A lease was deemed to provide the most benefit to the council and ratepayers, as it would see council reap the benefits of lease revenue while allowing capital expenditure for airport upgrades to be transferred to the lessee.
According to the council, there would be potential for international flights to begin operating from Coffs Harbour as the cost of expanding the airport - around $30m to $50m - would be borne by the lessee.
The lease would also see the $25m Enterprise Park development placed under the management of the third party.
In March it was revealed that the council has been forced to significantly speed up the Enterprise Park development in order to meet the requirement of a $10m federal funding grant.
The 95-lot business precinct must now be scheduled for completion by April 2022, with the first sod turned in January this year.
Former airport manager Dennis Martin said the council was initially going to develop the park over several stages across 8-10 years but these plans were held off as the potential lease progressed.
It is hoped the Enterprise Park will draw in new employment and businesses into the region, particularly I. T-related businesses, data centres, distribution centres and aviation-related businesses.