Mayor takes his Qantas bid to social media

GOING VIRAL: Ben Shields' push for the Qantas pilot academy includes a video.
GOING VIRAL: Ben Shields' push for the Qantas pilot academy includes a video.

Dubbo’s push to be the location of a new Qantas Pilot Academy has ramped up, with a video featuring a cross-section of the community being created in an attempt to catch the eye of the company’s chief executive officer Alan Joyce.

The video circulated on social media on Tuesday evening and features Dubbo residents, young and old, holding signs outlining the positive things the city has going for it.

It ends with Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields putting forward his push to Mr Joyce.

Cr Shields said discussion about the Qantas Pilot Academy being developed in Dubbo has created a sense of excitement for the city as people realise the economic potential such a facility would have for Dubbo and the whole Western NSW Region.

“The proposition for Qantas is simple,” he said.

“We are ready for Qantas and we have the land to build it, the airport infrastructure to support it, the climate and airspace for practical training and the overwhelming local community support to make it a success.

“In addition to a formal approach detailing the city’s capacity to support such a facility we are taking the community message to Qantas headquarters through social media.”

Cr Shields added the video shows the community is willing to get behind Qantas and shows off some of the benefits of selecting Dubbo that can’t be as easily expressed in a letter.

“We want Qantas to know that a Pilot Academy based in Dubbo will be welcomed by the entire community and will have enormous economic benefit for the whole region,” he said.

“We also want to show the pilots that would be trained here that Dubbo has modern services, a great lifestyle and is a fun place to live and visit.”

The push for the academy to be based in Dubbo came after recent reports outlined that services would be removed from various regional locations, including Dubbo, due to factors including a pilot shortage.

The airline explained it was favourable to remove the services rather than have to cancel at the last minute.

In it’s half-yearly report, the company outlined plans for the establishment of the academy, and Cr Shields was quick to put the city forward as a potential host.

He said the city not only had its regional airport, but there were also airstrips at both Narromine and Bodangora near Wellington that could be utilised.

“Using those three runways, you can have synergies where basic pilot instruction and training go on at the smaller airstrips through to when larger craft come in,” he said.

Qantas has stated it wants a new facility, which would be capable of training up to 500 pilots a year, to be based somewhere in regional Australia.