Launceston unites for Qantas flight academy push

ACADEMY: The academy would train 100 students a year to start, before increasing its capacity to 500. Picture: Phillip Biggs
ACADEMY: The academy would train 100 students a year to start, before increasing its capacity to 500. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Local and federal government have made a unified push to land Qantas’ new pilot academy. 

Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten and Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart have both backed a push for the Launceston Airport’s bid to win the contract in the face of competition from other Tasmanian regional airports.

“We have the necessary infrastructure, links to educational institutes like the University of Tasmania, and can offer prospective students an envious lifestyle standard,” Alderman van Zetten said.

In February, Qantas announced plans to establish a $20 million regional flight school to help meet the growing global demand for pilots. 

The school would train 100 students a year to start, before increasing its capacity to 500. 

Devonport is also bidding for the academy

Mr Hart said Launceston’s track record in housing the Australian Maritime College proved the city could support the facility.

“Our ability to house one of the southern hemisphere’s pre-eminent maritime training institutions should be a big tick for Qantas,” he said.

Qantas released its list of criteria that applicants must meet to be selected. 

The criteria includes a 1300-metre asphalt runway, capability for full lighting, fuel tanker refuelling facilities and enough hangar space for maintenance and parking of up to 30 aircraft, with the ability to grow to 50 aircraft.  

“High-tech” student classrooms, facilities to accommodate flight training simulators, and a range of student accommodation options must also be available. 

Launceston Airport general manager Paul Hodgen said Launceston met all of Qantas’ criteria, citing the more than $65 million spent on upgrading the airport over the past 10 years.

As well as being named the best regional airport in Australia for three consecutive years, Launceston is in the unique position where it meets physical requirements as outlined by Qantas.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose

“As a result of the investments made by the airport company over the years, Launceston airport is actually well placed to comprehensively meet the requirements,” he said. 

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose emphasised the need for Tasmanians to back one consolidated bid for the school. 

“As well as being named the best regional airport in Australia for three consecutive years, Launceston is in the unique position where it meets physical requirements as outlined by Qantas,” he said.​

Tamworth, Mackay, Cairns and Rockhampton are among a 40-strong field applying for the school.