Dubbo's Qantas pilot academy bid faces more than 55 competitors

Qantas has plans to establish a pilot training academy in regional Australia. Photo contributed.
Qantas has plans to establish a pilot training academy in regional Australia. Photo contributed.

Dubbo is one of more than 55 locations formally vying to land a new $20 million Qantas pilot academy.

The airline on Tuesday revealed the volume of response to its quest to find a base in a regional area to train its next aviators.

Interest in the project took off in February when Qantas announced its intention to establish the academy next year to eventually train up to 500 pilots a year.

Dubbo Regional Council has been pursuing the facility, lodging a proposal by Friday’s due date.

A Qantas spokeswoman said more than 55 regional cities had put forward a proposal to be home to its new Group Pilot Academy.

“We’re really pleased with the response we’ve had from local communities and state governments around Australia,” she said.

The airline will get down to weighing up the proposals.

“Over the next few weeks we’ll be reviewing these responses to key selection criteria before a shortlist is announced towards the end of this month,” the spokeswoman said.

When asked by the Daily Liberal if the council’s proposal offered support, either in kind or cash, Cr Shields expressed confidence in the strength of the bid.

The submission so far has provided various incentives, which we believe we can offer.

Dubbo mayor Ben Shields

“The submission so far has provided various incentives, which we believe we can offer,” he said.

“And my understanding so far is that our submission is far better than what you’ll find other regional cities can offer, and that is because of our unique location, the unique amount of land we do also have available at our airport.

“But that’s not going into specific details because a lot of that needs to be kept as commercial in confidence at the moment.”

He identified “geographic location” and “community enthusiasm” for the project as factors that set Dubbo apart.

The mayor said efforts to secure the pilot academy would continue beyond lodging the proposal.

“We’ve got to be proactive when it comes to lobbying various decision makers, both within state and federal government and also within Qantas,” Cr Shields said.

“I’m certainly keen to continue pushing this as much as I can in various forms, whether it be in social media, whether it be general lobbying of politicians and Qantas representatives.

“It’s a continual battle right up to when the last moment when Qantas makes its decision.”