An official sod turning ceremony for the long awaited expansion of the Armidale Airport's airside parking apron and the development of the Armidale Business Park was performed at Armidale Regional Airport at about 10.15am on Monday, February 10.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray and the Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said the event marked major milestones in the development of the airport.
While the $6.5 million funding for the business park was made this time last year, State Government funding worth $1.5 million for the apron was announced in December 2015.
"Armidale council will undertake at $2.1 million expansion of the current 3-bay airside parking apron to allow four aircraft, three of which could be Dash 8 Q400s, to make use of the apron at the same time," Mr Marshall said at the time.
"The current three-bay configuration is proving restrictive, with two air services and frequent use by Air Ambulance and private aircraft."
In 2016, Armidale Regional Council administrator Ian Tiley said he expected a terminal extension, aircraft apron upgrade, and a new access roundabout on the New England Highway for two industrial estates to be completed in 2017.
That turned out not to be the case, and the cost of the expansion has now risen to $3.8 million.
"The bushfires really highlighted the limitations we had under present tarmac conditions," Cr Murray said.
"Trying to shuffle aircraft around for the ones bringing in firefighters and mixing them with the RPTs was real a problem then.
"We'll be basically doubling the hard tarmac and making it much stronger than it was before. So, we should be able to handle twice the number of aircraft. At the moment there is only one [taxi] way in and one way out."
Mr Marshall said the projects were going to pave the way for a Renaissance in economic development in the Armidale Region.
"The focus has to be creating a focus on our region," he said.
"Without opportunities to create new jobs then we're really shortchanging our children and their children.
"This business park expansion is going to be crucial to building a strong future for this region. We've got to go for growth, and that's exactly what these two projects are about."
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