ARMIDALE Dumaresq Council will apply for federal funding for the upgrade of Armidale Airport following a unanimous vote in favour of the motion.
The council has prepared a submission requesting $2.45 million from round four of the government's Regional Development Australia Fund.
If granted, the funding will go towards extending the runway apron and terminal area to cater for 70-seat aircraft and above. Landing and runway lights will also be upgraded under the proposal.
Upgrading the airport's facilities for larger aircraft has the potential to attract other airliners such as Virgin Australia to compete with Qantaslink on the Sydney to Armidale route.
In the application, general manager Shane Burns and public infrastructure director David Stellar wrote the upgrade “builds on the existing strengths of the regional airport encouraging local businesses, attracting tourists, and allowing new people to relocate their families and enterprises to Armidale”.
It was argued the project was of regional significance because of the airport's servicing of smaller centres such as Inverell, Glen Innes, Uralla and Guyra.
The proposal has been spearheaded by first-term councillors Margaret O'Connor, Peter O'Donohue and Laurie Bishop, after an earlier mayoral minute to apply for $5 million of federal funding for the new library was defeated.
The application was discussed alongside two other proposals at an extraordinary meeting in Council chambers on Monday night. Rob Richardson asked for the suspension of standing orders so councillors could speak freely about each of the proposals in turn.
After a 20-minute discussion, the airport upgrade application was accepted unanimously. Other proposals included $4.9 million in funding for the construction of a regional Green Data Centre and $2.55 million for the extension of water and sewerage to industrial land near the airport.
The application was put to government bodies for consideration and if successful, it could be completed in mid-2016.