Hopes flying high... Mayor of Eurobodalla Shire Lindsay Brown at Moruya Airport. Photo: Graham Tidy
A major redevelopment of Moruya Airport could attract new light and aeronautical industries and enhance the South Coast's reputation as a lifestyle retreat.
Eurobodalla Mayor Lindsay Brown said a joint venture with investment partners, leasing and perhaps even selling the airport were options, although he did not favour selling the council-owned airport.
Under consideration are plans for extending the main north-west runway from 1.5kms to 1.8 kilometres to enable jets to land, re-locating and upgrading the terminal, developing more accommodation nearby and extending leases on crown land from 25 to 50 years to make them more attractive for financiers to fund businesses expansion.
"You fly down over the sea, it is one of the very few regional airports right next to the water's edge, it is quite spectacular coming in," Mr Brown said.
"We are looking at hangar space, trying to upgrade the runway to bring in another carrier, allow for bigger jets, more tourism and professionals and business people and people to base themselves here," Mr Brown said.
"You would be surprised at the people who base themselves in Eurobodalla, yet travel interstate every day. There are about 29 people who fly in and fly out for the life style for the week."
Regional Express Airlines and charter planes provide services, 80 per cent of which is for business along the coast, including fly-in fly-out medical specialists.
"We need to keep the airport profitable, otherwise we'd have to ship people out to seek those medical services," Mr Brown said.
The future of a "primitive camping" ground adjoining the strip will also be reviewed. Some people enjoy the lack of facilities and congregated on the site, but it may have better uses, according to the mayor.
Rather than taking on major projects, Mr Brown said the council was focussed on smaller, achievable goals that would make a difference on the South Coast.
Looking at major airlines like Virgin would involve upgrades to accommodate bigger jets, although Army Hercules land and have plenty of space.
More generally, Mr Brown said the shire had upgraded infrastructure to accommodate the growing influx of Canberrans on holidays.
"We built a pipeline to increase water flow into Deep Creek Dam which is our water storage, that was a $30 million spend and we spent $20 million upgrading our water treatment works which allows us to pump water through the community, from what had been a turbid state to start with," he said.
"We have removed the issue of water restrictions from the community. I'm not saying it is never going to happen again. We have done the best we can from preventing water restrictions again.
"The infrastructure is designed to carry 140,000 people, yet most of the shire during the years has only got 40,000.
"But you have to make that capacity, otherwise you can't have the tourism benefits we'd like to have. The major issue is maintaining infrastructure such as our pools and our roads."
Without a rail line, transport options were limited Mr Brown said, and consequently Eurobodalla would never be a heavy industrial area as people preferred living alongside light industrial and professional sectors.
"What we are trying to do is get B double access down the Kings Highway," Mr Brown said.
"At the moment large ones can't come down, therefore we pay a premium for our freight, especially our fruit and veg. We need about $12 million to fix the Kings Highway.
"If we sort that out, it would make a huge difference to our community.
"Most of our freight comes out of Canberra, especially from Canberra Airport and now that Goulburn is looking to be a major depot for logistics, that's where we are putting our energy."