A call has been made for the Busselton Margaret River Airport to be used as an alternate diversion airport to Perth Airport.
South West MLC Steve Thomas said airlines were required to identify an alternative diversion destination before they took off, in case they could not land at their planned destination.
Dr Thomas said this also required planes to load enough fuel to reach their target destination, maintain a holding pattern for a period of time and then fly safely to their alternate diversion destination.
He said if the alternate destination was Adelaide, the airlines would load enough fuel to fly another 2000 kilometres which impacted the weight they could carry and fuel efficiency.
“Even if the alternate airport is in WA, Learmonth is 1000 kilometres away from Perth and Kalgoorlie is over 500 kilometres.
“According to the Federal Department of Infrastructure, the Busselton Margaret River Airport is 202 kilometres from Perth Airport”.
Dr Thomas said given the airport could charge airlines for such a backup service, it could provide an income stream for the airport until further developments were realised.
“It needs to be remembered that flights every day landing in Perth have to have an identified alternate airport and carry enough fuel to reach it, not just those on bad weather days,” he said.
“The potential savings for airlines on days with good conditions amount to millions of dollars, some of which could underpin the development of the Busselton Margaret River Airport.
“Perth Airport seems concerned about competition from the Busselton Margaret River Airport, but surely it should support it as an alternate diversion airport, and I would like to see the State Government and City of Busselton support this proposition as well.”
City of Busselton chief executive officer Mike Archer said the city supported the airport being used as an emergency airport, noting as a general rule airlines usually nominated their alternate airport.
Mr Archer said several factors were considered by airlines when determining the viability of an alternate airport including the distance, infrastructure and other facilities including a terminal and refueling capacity.
”The city has already had preliminary discussions with some airlines that have shown interest in utilising the airport in this way,” he said.
Regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan said given the level of state government investment in this project, they would certainly hope the airport could be used as an alternative to Perth.
“The runway that would be necessary for this to be possible has already been built,” she said.
“However it should be noted that in many cases airlines prefer passengers to stay on board until the destination airport is reopened to operations, so the regional development consequences may be limited.”
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