The $3.8 million project to extend the airside parking apron at Armidale Regional Airport has been completed, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall announced on Wednesday.
Mr Marshall said the project was a key plank in the strategy to maintain the airport as one of the busiest in country NSW and grow the numbers of flights and passengers in the long term.
"If we're to put our foot on the accelerator and 'go for growth' as a region, the airport is crucial to achieving this," he said.
"As QantasLink, Regional Express and Fly Corporate plan for the future and the return of more flights between Armidale, Sydney and Brisbane, these upgrades will ensure our region has a modern airport which can service their needs.
"If there is one silver lining to the pandemic and reduced flights into the facility it is that work soared ahead on this considerable project with minimal interruptions.
"In five months Armidale Regional Council has delivered an expanded apron pavement with improvements to the existing apron, upgraded taxiway, installed new edge lighting, new pedestrian ramp and line marking.
"Armidale Regional Airport is not only the gateway to the city of Armidale but our region, and I see investing in its success as vital for the economic development towns, villages and businesses across the entire New England.
"Forecasts for the terminal anticipate growth in passenger numbers from current levels of approximately 120,000 a year to 175,000 a year by 2025 - this upgrade ensuring facilities can accommodate for these numbers.
"More visitors in our communities means more people staying in local accommodation, eating in local cafes and restaurants and spending money in local shops.
"It is my hope as our economy starts to recover and visitors return to this part of the world we will start to see airlines consider using larger aircraft, and when they do our airport will be ready."
The state government has contributed $1.5 million to the upgrade of the airside apron, $6 million to the Airport Business Park and another $5.8 million toward the upgrade of the airport passenger terminal.
Council's Director of Businesses and Services Scot MacDonald said the completed apron expansion was a significant milestone in council's vision for a modern, innovative and forward thinking regional airport precinct.
"The airport precinct including the adjacent business park development is a key pillar of the Armidale region's economic prosperity," Mr MacDonald said.
"By providing world-class regional airport infrastructure council, in partnership with the NSW Government, is laying the foundation for growth, job creation and business confidence.
"A recent study published by the Regional Australia Institute has shown an increase in young Australians moving from capital cities to a more affordable and comfortable lifestyle in regional centres.
"We are strategically positioning our region to take advantage of this growth."