Dubbo Mayor Proposes City's Airport as Potential Regional Base for Virgin Australia

Mayor of the Dubbo Region Ben Shields has offered Dubbo as a potential base for the operation for Virgin Australia (or a potentially rebranded version of the entity) for the airline’s regional fleet maintenance and regular passenger transport services, as part of a NSW Government package.

After it was announced on 20 April, 2020, that Virgin Australia was entering into voluntary administration, Councillor Shields wrote to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, expressing interest in supporting a state bid to attract Virgin Australia to the state.

In his letter to the Premier on 23 April, 2020, the Mayor said Dubbo City Regional Airport could prove a cost-effective location for hosting Virgin Australia assets for regional services.

“I wrote to Premier Berejiklian to show Council’s support for a NSW Government financial assistance package for Virgin Australia and to show our enthusiasm to be involved,” Councillor Shields said.

“Bringing Virgin to NSW would have the potential to generate thousands of jobs for our state and if Dubbo was able to further increase the services it offers, it would have the potential to create hundreds of jobs for our region.

“It would be a welcome boost at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing drought has ravaged our local economy. Dubbo is already a service hub for Western NSW and our airport is one of the busiest in regional NSW so it would be a logical move.”

Prior to the pandemic, Dubbo’s airport consistently welcomed more than 200,000 passenger arrivals and departures annually with more than 160 RPT flights per week to locations including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Broken Hill and other regional centres.

The airport has grown substantially to accommodate the demand including upgrades to runway and lighting, expanded general aviation precinct, new rental and staff carparks and is currently in the final stages of completing an apron expansion project to support RPT activity and Large Aircraft Tanker base development in partnership with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

In recent years Dubbo’s airport has also become an emergency services hub with the NSW RFS investing $30 million in a training facility at the precinct, a VRA/SES Emergency Service Centre being constructed and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) expanding operations and constructing a new tourism attraction, the RFDS Visitor Experience Centre.

The airport was previously the home of a large maintenance facility for a national airline’s regional operations until 2002.

Councillor Shields said Dubbo had been working with Virgin prior to the pandemic, with a view to attracting the airline to the region.

“Dubbo Regional Council had been in regular contact with Virgin with the intent of forming a partnership for Regular Passenger Transport services from Western NSW to a number of potential ports in and outside of NSW. Council was also keen to explore the establishment of a Virgin maintenance facility at Dubbo City Regional Airport,” Councillor Shields said.

“Dubbo has been very successful in attracting a number of airlines to service our airport and given our discussions with Virgin, we invested in a solid business case for them to consider Western NSW in their long term business plans.

“There is no doubt the aviation industry is currently experiencing a difficult time but I am confident there is a bright future ahead and Dubbo can be an important part of that recovery for our domestic airlines.”

Last Edited: 17 Jun 2020

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