Queensland company hints at its intentions for airport lease
AS Coffs Harbour City Council prepares to relinquish the management of Coffs Harbour Airport to a private operator for the first time, one of Australia's leading regional airport operators has hinted it intends to be in the running to take over the lease.
Since the council voted last year to move forward with the preparation of a long-term lease to a third party, speculation has been rife over who would be taking over the role.
The airport has been owned and operated by the council since its inception, however, long-serving manager Dennis Martin is now retiring from the position.
Queensland Airports Limited, which operates Gold Coast, Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports, is rumoured to be interested in taking over the lease. Its chief executive officer, Chris Mills, has all but confirmed the speculation.
"We understand that Coffs Harbour City Council is yet to finalise the expressions of interest process," Mr Mills said.
QAL's largest airport, Gold Coast Airport, sees more than 6.5 million passengers a year and offers international flights to New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
There are hopes, particularly from the local business community, that Coffs Harbour's airport would also offer international flights, arguing tourism and the local agricultural export industries would greatly benefit from this.
At this stage, tenders closed last week for an independent expert advisor to aid the council in establishing the lease.
The council has declined to comment at this point in time.