Dubbo airport upgrades underway, economy to win: Mark Coulton, Ben Shields

Building up: Dubbo City Regional Airport's Natalie Nissen, Dubbo Regional Council CEO Michael McMahon, Parkes MP Mark Coulton, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields, representative for Dubbo MP Troy Grant Jane Differy and Cr Greg Mohr inspect the plans as construction moves ahead. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Building up: Dubbo City Regional Airport's Natalie Nissen, Dubbo Regional Council CEO Michael McMahon, Parkes MP Mark Coulton, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields, representative for Dubbo MP Troy Grant Jane Differy and Cr Greg Mohr inspect the plans as construction moves ahead. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A specialist aeromedical terminal that will allow patients to be transferred under cover from aircraft to ambulance is one of multiple and multimillion-dollar capital upgrades underway at Dubbo’s airport.

Construction has started on the expansion of both general aviation and aeromedical facilities at the site.

The $17.5 million upgrade of Dubbo City Regional Airport will increase capacity and services to support health care provision, but also tourism, economic growth and business development, federal and civic leaders report.

On Friday the site was buzzing with activity as Parkes MP Mark Coulton, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields and representatives of Dubbo MP Troy Grant and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) toured the transformation.

The federal government has contributed $6.685 million through the National Stronger Regions Fund to the overall project to upgrade the general aviation and aeromedical facilities.

This includes construction of 11 new hangars to be used by private and business customers, taxiways, roads, drainage, stormwater, power, water and sewer.

In addition a new aeromedical patient transfer building located within the RFDS precinct includes construction of four new patient transfer buildings.

They will mean patients no longer have to be transferred in the open air, improving patient welfare.

Mr Coulton said the upgrade provided enormous potential for business growth and complementary development that would further stimulate regional economic activity for Dubbo and western NSW.

“The Australian government is continuing to invest in infrastructure projects which deliver economic benefit to regional Australia,” he said.

“Investment in infrastructure such as the Dubbo City Regional Airport stimulates productivity and generates lasting economic and social benefits that the Dubbo and Orana Region will prosper from.”

The progress of the aeromedical facility is being cheered on by RFDS Dubbo base manager Darren Schiller.

The development would help the organisation improve its already high quality patient care, he said.

“At the moment we load and unload patients out on the tarmac, in the open, so obviously when it’s hot or raining, our poor old patients get moved from the aircraft to an ambulance in that weather,” he said.

“The facility the council’s building for us will allow us to do all of that under cover.”

The four new hangars would also help the RFDS protect the life of its aircraft.

“... we will be able to for the first time ever put all of our aircraft under cover when we’re not using them, which only helps with their maintenance and looking after them,” Mr Schiller said.

Funding from the NSW government’s Restart NSW Regional Tourism Infrastructure program has been a critical part of the overall airport upgrade with $7.46M contributed to the runway strengthening and lighting upgrade.

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Mr Grant said the recently completed Runway Strengthening and Lighting project was an example of the NSW government investing in critical infrastructure projects attracting more visitors to regional NSW.

“The NSW Government is committed to building infrastructure that boosts regional tourism which is a key driver in economic activity,” he said.

“Dubbo City Regional Airport is a vital piece of infrastructure for NSW providing connectivity not only with Sydney but also with Australia’s other cities Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Newcastle,” Mr Grant said.

Cr Shields thanked the federal and state governments for the valued contributions to a key piece of the region’s infrastructure.

“The total upgrade project is an excellent example of government working in partnership to deliver major infrastructure projects that will have long-term benefits for regional communities,” he said.

“Our airport is certainly the jewel in the crown when it comes to development within Dubbo Regional Council.

“It is such an important piece of infrastructure that brings a hell of a lot of money into this region.”